Dáil debates

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Report Stage

 

1:50 pm

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Amendments Nos. 1, 2, 65, 76 and 77 are related and may be discussed together. Recommittal is necessary in respect of amendment No. 1 and the related amendments as they relate to the instruction to committee motion.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendments Nos. 1 and 2.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, line 9, after “time;” to insert the following:“to amend the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 and the Garda Síochána Act 2005;”.

The purpose of these amendments is to enable us to use the Bill to amend the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012. I also propose making a very minor amendment to the section of the Garda Síochána Act relating to vetting. The objective is to move the legislation on and deal with the issues in regard to vetting.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 2:

In page 3, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following:
“PART 1

PRELIMINARY AND GENERAL
Short title, collective citation, construction and commencement

1. (1) This Act may be cited as the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016.

(2) The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 and Part 3 may be cited together as the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 and shall be construed together as one Act.

(3) This Act shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister may appoint by order or orders either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision and different days may be so appointed for different purposes or provisions.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Amendments Nos. 3, 4, 11 and 69 are related drafting amendments and may be discussed together.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 3:

In page 3, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following:“Definition

2.In this Act “Minister” means the Minister for Justice and Equality.”.

These are minor drafting amendments that insert the section defining "Minister" and make provision in respect of expenses.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 4:

In page 3, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following:“Expenses

3.The expenses incurred by the Minister in the administration of this Act shall, to such extent as may be sanctioned by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Amendments Nos. 5, 33, 40 to 44, inclusive, 46, 50 to 54, inclusive, 70 to 74, inclusive, and 93 to 96, inclusive, are related drafting amendments and may be discussed together.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 5:

In page 3, line 12, to delete “Act” and substitute “Part”.

These are minor drafting amendments to have an orderly structure in the Bill. We are creating three Parts to the Bill. The first concerns general and preliminary matters, the second concerns spent convictions, and the third concerns amendments to the National Vetting Bureau Act 2012. Throughout the Bill, we have had to amend the various references to "Act" and substitute "Part". The amendments are purely technical.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Amendments Nos. 6, 8 to 10, inclusive, 12 to 29, inclusive, and 31 are related. Amendments Nos. 13 to 15, inclusive, are physical alternatives to amendment No. 12. They are all to be discussed together.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 6:

In page 3, lines 23 and 24, to delete “relevant custodial sentence or a relevant non-custodial sentence” and substitute “custodial sentence or a non-custodial sentence”.

The amendments are to alter slightly the meaning of the terms "relevant sentence" and "relevant non-custodial sentence" in order to harmonise the wording between the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill and the vetting Act. Section 4 of the Bill will become redundant. I, therefore, propose that it be deleted. I am not proposing changes to the duration of relevant sentences. The Bill already provides that convictions resulting in prison sentences of up to 12 months can become spent. I appreciate that some Deputies would like to see the prison term that can become spent increased to a term of up to four years. However, having regard to the very serious offences that could then become spent, I am unable to agree to this. An examination of the Courts Service's sentencing database shows that if I were to accept a limit of four years, it would allow offences such as the possession of firearms, armed robbery and major drugs offences to become spent. The Government simply cannot agree to such proposals.

As the Deputies will be aware, the Law Reform Commission recommended that only sentences of up to six months could be spent, and we have already exceeded that recommendation. The 12-month cut-off covers over 85% of all custodial sentences handed down by the courts. Any yardstick or regime that allows that proportion of custodial sentences to become spent should be acceptable.

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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Amendment No. 8 relates to what the Minister has been saying about the term of a conviction that can become spent. Her argument on the period of 48 months does not really hold up. This legislation is trying to bring us into line with what other countries have determined in respect of how spent convictions can actually be dealt with. When this Bill was first introduced, in 2012, it was argued that a period 12 months was not long enough. We were talking about two years. Things have moved on considerably, even since 2012. As the Bill stands, if we stick with a period of 12 months, we will actually be 35 or 40 years behind our nearest neighbours, the Six Counties and Great Britain, with regard to what kind of custodial sentence can be viewed as spent. It is not reasonable to argue some very serious offences could be spent if we stuck to a term of 48 months. The Department has three or four years to review this Bill. It is that long since we dealt with Second and Committee Stages but I am sure the Minister could have devised a way to allow serious convictions, such as convictions for the possession of firearms or drugs, not to be classed as spent. It would have been technically possible to achieve that.

The actions of an individual who received a custodial sentence for an offence committed at a difficult time, perhaps in his late teens or early 20s, may be regarded as completely out of character years later. However, such an individual is not able to move on at any stage and that is why we should consider being progressive and having a period of 48 months. I had supposed the very idea behind the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill was to allow people to be rehabilitated, move on and recover their lives. People who have a conviction dating back perhaps 40 or 50 years are still being penalised. I know of an individual in his early 60s who was convicted 44 years ago but who cannot get insurance today as a consequence. These are the kinds of circumstances we should be examining. Those who receive a conviction at a difficult time in life have to live with it for the rest of their lives. We could really have found a way to ensure sentences of up to 48 months, excluding for very serious convictions, such as for armed robbery or the possession of firearms, could have been excluded. I am sure the Department had the wherewithal to do that.

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick, Fianna Fail)
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Following on from what Deputy Pringle said, our amendment seeks to extend the 12-month period to 14 months. As with any of the debates we have on time periods, one must pick a cut-off point. Could the Minister clarify why she picked a period of 12 months? She stated this would cover 85% of convictions. Is there any more information she could give us to help us explain to somebody, if asked, why a period of 12 months was picked rather than a longer one?

Photo of Pádraig MacLochlainnPádraig MacLochlainn (Donegal North East, Sinn Fein)
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I apologise for being a little late. The schedule has changed very quickly. Unfortunately, I must leave because I must chair the Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions at 4 p.m. I must leave soon to prepare for that.

One of the issues of concern is the Good Friday Agreement. It requires that there be an equivalent level of human rights protection in both parts of the island. In the North, the law is such that sentences of up to 30 months may become spent. The Irish Penal Reform Trust, with which we agree, argues the term should be 48 months; hence, the amendment. At the very least, there should be equivalence with the law in the North.

There is concern over political prisoners. The law has had an impact on their employment rights in many regards. The people of Ireland voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Good Friday Agreement, which calls for human rights equivalence across the island and for political prisoners to be able to move on with their lives as long as they do not reoffend. The legislation, as presented by the Minister, does not provide for equivalence.

That is unfortunate because, as Deputy Pringle stated on the wider point concerning the time periods, depending on the category of offence, 12 months is not a sufficiently long period.

2:00 pm

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I thank Deputies for their contributions. Different sentences are handed down for offences in the North and the United Kingdom and different regimes are in place for spent convictions. In the United Kingdom, for example, a four-year limit applies to spent convictions but only non-custodial sentences become spent under the UK system. The provisions in the Bill are more generous than the provisions in place in Australia and New Zealand where only non-custodial sentences are spent. As such, different regimes are in place in respect of the length of time involved.

Deputy Niall Collins asked why a cut-off point of one year was selected. As I indicated, the 12 month cut-off point covers more than 85% of all custodial sentences handed down by the courts. The proposed amendments to the Betting Act, which I will introduce later in the debate, will provide that certain District Court convictions will not be disclosed by the Garda vetting unit. These include any motoring offence more than seven years old and minor public order offences more than seven years old. In addition, where a person has only one District Court conviction other than motoring or public order convictions, that conviction will also not be disclosed after seven years. Some exemptions must apply, however. Convictions for sexual offences will be disclosed and all convictions for offences which would provide a bona fide concern that a person would pose a threat to a child or vulnerable person will continue to be disclosed. These offences are listed in Schedule 3, which will be added to the Act in amendment No. 92.

The effect of the provisions is that a large percentage of convictions will no longer be disclosed in Garda vetting disclosures. A pilot project on this issue was carried out in the past year and worked out well.

Amendment put and declared carried.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Amendments Nos. 7 and 34 are related and may be discussed together.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 7:

In page 3, line 27, to delete "by a court" and substitute "by a court, other than the District Court".

The purpose of these amendments is to allow that excluded sentences under the spent convictions regime will not exclude sentences in the District Court. Amendment No. 7 will ensure that on those relatively rare occasions on which the District Court imposes consecutive sentences, which will become less rare following the introduction of new legislation on burglary, where the total sentence exceeds 12 months' imprisonment, the consecutive sentence of the District Court will not trigger the sentence becoming an excluded sentence.

Amendment No. 34 provides that where a District Court conviction is appealed to the Circuit Court and confirmed by that court, it remains a District Court conviction for the purposes of this Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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I move amendment No. 8:

In page 3, line 28, to delete "12 months" and substitute "48 months".

Amendment put:

The Dáil divided: Tá, 30; Níl, 56.


Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Thomas Pringle; Níl, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe.

Amendment declared lost.

2:10 pm

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick, Fianna Fail)
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I move amendment No. 9:

In page 3, line 28, to delete “12 months” and substitute “2 years”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 10:

In page 3, line 30, to delete “relevant non-custodial” and substitute “non-custodial”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 11:

In page 4, to delete line 1.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 12:

In page 4, lines 2 to 4, to delete all words from and including “ “relevant custodial sentence”, in line 2 down to and including “court” in line 4 and substitute the following:“ “custodial sentence”, in relation to a person convicted of an offence, means any sentence of imprisonment imposed by the District Court or a sentence of imprisonment for a term of 12 months or less imposed by any other court”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Amendments Nos. 13 to 15, inclusive, cannot be moved.

Amendments Nos. 13 to 15, inclusive, not moved.

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick, Fianna Fail)
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I move amendment No. 16:

In page 4, line 9, to delete “12 months” and substitute “2 years”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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I move amendment No. 17:

In page 4, line 9, to delete “12 months” and substitute “48 months”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

2:15 pm

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick, Fianna Fail)
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I move amendment No. 18:

In page 4, line 13, to delete “12 months” and substitute “2 years”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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I move amendment No. 19:

In page 4, line 13, to delete “12 months” and substitute “48 months”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick, Fianna Fail)
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I move amendment No. 20:

In page 4, line 14, to delete “12 months” and substitute “2 years”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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I move amendment No. 21:

In page 4, line 14, to delete “12 months” and substitute “48 months”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick, Fianna Fail)
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I move amendment No. 22:

In page 4, line 17, to delete “12 months” and substitute “2 years”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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I move amendment No. 23:

In page 4, line 17, to delete “12 months” and substitute “48 months”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick, Fianna Fail)
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I move amendment No. 24:

In page 4, line 21, to delete “12 months” and substitute “2 years”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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I move amendment No. 25:

In page 4, line 21, to delete “12 months” and substitute “48 months”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick, Fianna Fail)
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I move amendment No. 26:

In page 4, line 25, to delete “12 months” and substitute “2 years”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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I move amendment No. 27:

In page 4, line 25, to delete “12 months” and substitute “48 months”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 28:

In page 4, line 31, to delete “relevant non-custodial” and substitute “non-custodial”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 29 not moved.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I wish to make a correction in accordance with Standing Order 140. I ask the Leas-Cheann Comhairle to direct the Clerk to make a minor drafting correction to the text of the Bill. Amendment No. 12 removes the word "relevant" from the definition of relevant custodial sentence. As a result, this definition should be moved so that it appears after the definition of court in order to follow the alphabetical sequence of definitions. This is being done in the interests of textual clarity and does not affect any substantive amendments.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Is that agreed? Agreed.

Amendments No. 30, 35 to 39, inclusive, 84, 92 and 97 to 99, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together. Amendments Nos. 36 and 37 are physical alternatives to amendment No. 35. Amendments Nos. 98 and 99 are physical alternatives to amendment No. 97.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 30:

In page 5, to delete lines 3 to 6.

These amendments are the most substantive before us today.I would like to explain in detail the reasons for the changes I am proposing in the Bill and in the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012. The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill and the commencement of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 have been significantly delayed due to the outcomes of important legal cases based on the right to privacy provisions set out in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK Court of Appeal case, known as the case of R (on the application of T) v.Chief Constable of Greater Manchester and others, found that the indiscriminate disclosure of all criminal records is incompatible with the right to privacy under this article of the European Convention on Human Rights. The appeals court found that the disclosure of criminal convictions must be based on principles of relevance and proportionality. Moreover, there must be a degree of coherence between the legislation providing for spent convictions and any legislation providing for the disclosure of criminal convictions for certain categories of employment. Since this specific case, further cases have arisen in the UK due to the fact that the UK Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and the legislation providing for the Disclosure and Barring Service procedures are at odds with each other. Put simply, any offences excluded from vetting disclosures because they are not relevant should also be spent convictions. Equally, there must be some consistency in policy regarding convictions under each piece of legislation.

The proposed amendments to the vetting Act 2012, which I am bringing forward today, will provide, as I have outlined to the House, for a range of convictions that will now not be disclosed by the Garda vetting unit. I have given the list to the House. It includes motoring and minor public order offences more than seven years old. Where a person has one and only one district court conviction other than motoring or public order convictions, that conviction also will not be disclosed after seven years, except for the two exemptions I mentioned earlier in regard to sexual offences. Where there is bona fide concern that a threat would be posed to a child or vulnerable person, offences would continue to be disclosed, and these are listed in Schedule 3 to the Bill. The provision will apply to well over 80% of all cases heard in the District Court. The Garda vetting unit has been in operation for the past year, and the non-disclosure procedures have been working satisfactorily.

I would like to explain the rationale for allowing all district court convictions for motoring and public order offences to be non-disclosable after seven years and why that time period was selected. Currently, the road transport operator regulations provide that any minor traffic offence over ten years old is not taken into account when people are applying for road transport operator licences. Similar provisions apply to taxi licensing. Following discussions between my Department and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, it has been agreed that the seven-year limit being proposed in these amendments can also be applied to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, with some minor modifications in regard to road transport and related regulations.

The reason it is not feasible to bring the reckoning period below seven years is the range of conflicts we would have with the road traffic Acts in regard to the periods of mandatory driving, which can be up to six years. We also want to avoid conflict with the penalty point system which is already in place in the road transport Acts. We cannot create a provision in this Bill which would allow a person applying for a job as a driver or a delivery person, for example, to state that he or she has no criminal convictions when he or she has penalty points on his or her licence in respect of a criminal conviction or is currently subject to a driving ban.

The 2007 Law Reform Commission report recommended that convictions should be spent after seven years. I can only assume that cut-off point was recommended because of the relevant provisions in the road transport Acts to which I have referred. It follows from this line of reasoning that the motoring offences which are not relevant for employment involving driving would not have relevance for non-motoring jobs such as those covered by the vetting Act. It is logical in what we are doing today to harmonise the provisions of the road transport regulations, the vetting Act and the spent convictions Bill in this regard. Amendments Nos. 35 and 84 make this provision.

In consultation between my Department and the Garda, it has been proposed that similar provisions should apply to the minor public order offences listed in amendments Nos. 35 and 84. These are offences in which there is no offence against a third party and it is therefore considered quite safe that these offences should be disregarded after seven years.

By taking the District Court motoring and public order offences out of the equation, we allow the great majority of convictions to become spent. However, we are left with offences that involves an offence against a third party, such as theft, robbery and criminal damage. They are more problematic because victims' rights are involved. In a year in which we will introduce the EU victims directive, we have to be very conscious of that. Therefore, we have to consider the rights of victims as well as those of offenders. There is also greater relevance for employment purposes. For this reason, I propose that a person should only be allowed to have one such conviction spent.

As a consequence of the amendments proposed for the National Vetting Bureau Act 2012, it follows that District Court convictions which will not be disclosed under the amended provisions of that Act should also become spent convictions under the Bill.

Similar provisions are therefore proposed for the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill.

In addition, I am mindful that the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill, as amended in the Seanad, already allows that a conviction in the Circuit Court which results in a sentence of up to 12 months' imprisonment is eligible to be spent. We have looked at the Circuit Court as well, and I will retain that provision, which was an amendment in the Seanad, but with the proviso that only one such Circuit Court conviction can be eligible to be spent because we are dealing with more serious offences in this regard.

I am conscious that these offences dealt with in the Circuit Court are the more serious offences in their category. The road traffic offences routinely dealt with in the Circuit Court include, for example, the unauthorised taking of a vehicle or dangerous driving offences. The offences against the person dealt with also tend to be at the more serious end of the spectrum, involving harm or serious harm to the victim. Having regard to the seriousness of these offences, I therefore propose limiting the spent convictions provisions for such convictions to a single conviction only. Where a person has multiple convictions in the Circuit Court, such convictions will remain as unspent convictions. This policy meets the criteria, which has been articulated in regard to the UK cases at European level, for relevance and proportionality. I believe that in the interests of rehabilitation of offenders, it is proportionate to allow that where the penalty is less than 12 months' imprisonment, a single offence, for example, of burglary, theft, assault causing harm, dangerous driving causing harm or possession of drugs with intent to supply is eligible to become spent under what I propose. However, where a person has more than one such conviction, I believe the rights of the employer come into play. I do not believe it is safe to legislate for persons with multiple convictions for serious offences to be able to inform an employer they have no such convictions. I also do not believe that there would be public acceptance for such an approach.

It is worth noting, and Deputies mentioned this, that what we are proposing is more generous than the spent convictions regimes in some other countries. For example, in Australia or New Zealand, only convictions which do not result in imprisonment are eligible to become spent. The Law Reform Commission recommended that spent convictions should be confined to a single conviction resulting in a penalty of six months' imprisonment or less, and the Bill exceeds that recommendation in allowing the one-year period of imprisonment.

To put these arguments more succinctly, by taking the approach I propose in these amendments, we can achieve a number of things. Any and all District Court motoring convictions and public order offences can become spent. That is very advantageous to a greater number of people because these offences account for such a high proportion of cases that come before the courts, and under this legislation they can become spent. We also avoid creating any conflict with the mandatory penalty points and driving bans under the road traffic legislation. This legislation must be compatible with that. We achieve coherence between the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill and the provisions regarding the non-disclosure of certain offences in the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act, so the provisions under the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill and the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act have to be coherent. By ensuring that, we make both Acts more understandable to the average person applying for work or for Garda vetting. We can adopt similar provisions regarding disclosures of criminal convictions which are outside the remit of the Acts. This includes disclosure required by road transport regulations, for example, and disclosures in police certificates for people working abroad.

With regard to the specific amendments, I am proposing amendments Nos. 30, 38 and 39 to delete the reference to the "relevant period" in the Bill as I am proposing that a common relevant period of seven years will apply in all cases. Amendment No. 35 sets out the provisions I am proposing for spent convictions, as I have outlined.

Amendments Nos. 36 and 37 are in the names of Deputy Pringle and Deputy Mac Lochlainn. Deputy Pringle proposed that there would be no limit on the number of convictions that could be spent. While one might make an argument for that in regard to the motoring offences and the public order offences, for the reasons outlined I do not believe it would be appropriate for more serious offences.

Amendment No. 84 sets out the proposal for non-disclosure of certain offences under the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act , and I have outlined that. Amendment No. 92 lists the offences it is proposed will require disclosure under the provisions of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act, that is, in regard to vulnerable children, for example, because they are offences which may be dealt with in the District Court but which could cause a concern that a person might cause harm to a vulnerable person. It should be noted that although these offences will be disclosed where persons are working with children or vulnerable people, they will still be eligible to be spent convictions with respect to other employments. They are targeted at ensuring that if the person works with children, their employer would have to be informed, but not in regard to other employments.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn is not here but I will deal with his amendments. They propose that convictions where fines are imposed and there is no custodial sentence would be deemed spent in one year for a class A fine or two years for other fines. I regret that I could not agree to this as the most common such offences are motoring offences and for the reasons I have already set out, we need to harmonise those provisions with the provisions in the road transport regulations. If I were to accept the two-year proposal, it would immediately come into conflict with all the legislation in regard to penalty points and driving bans. We need to harmonise the provisions in regard to motoring offences with the provisions that apply to persons applying for work governed by road transport and similar regulations. These amendments would be such that motoring offences would be deemed spent while persons would still have penalty points in respect of the offences.

I hope that rather lengthy description has given Deputies a clear idea of the connections between the vetting legislation and the road traffic legislation and why these are the terms we have put in place in this legislation.

2:25 pm

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Before I call on Deputy Pringle, we are discussing amendments Nos. 30, 35 to 39, inclusive, 84, 92 and 97 to 99, inclusive.

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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I want to discuss specifically amendments Nos. 35 to 37, inclusive, in response to the Minister's comments on her amendment No. 35. It is a rather strange provision in the legislation that the Minister is proposing that a conviction cannot be considered spent until after seven years, which is a change from the Bill as published and discussed previously. This is only being done to facilitate the road traffic Acts, and I cannot get my head around that. The original Bill as proposed had a table of different types of convictions, reference to the terms "custodial" and "non-custodial", and how long a person had to wait until their conviction was considered spent. That was a reasonable way of trying to deal with it whereas this blanket ban of seven years seems to be draconian for people who, under the previous Bill, would have been able to have a conviction of six months spent within a couple of years and could have applied to have that classed as a spent conviction. Now they must wait for seven years and that does not seem to me to be proportionate or reasonable in terms of dealing with them.

The Minister is also proposing that any number of road traffic convictions can be considered spent after the seven years but yet for other convictions only one conviction can be considered spent.

It creates different classes of offenders. Take, for example, a young person aged between 18 and 20 who goes off the rails slightly in terms of drinking or a drug habit and falls foul of the law. It might take the person a year or two to work through their problems, during which time he or she might accumulate a number of convictions, perhaps two three-month sentences. We are telling such people they can have only one spent conviction and that they can never lift this burden. Ten, 15 or 20 years down the line they could be totally reformed, have families and be contributing members of society, and we are telling them the mistakes they made will be carried with them for the rest of their lives simply because they can have only one spent conviction.

There is absolutely no value in somebody with multiple convictions even considering spent convictions because it just does not make any sense. What we are actually saying is people from communities with deprivation, large drug problems, poverty or exclusion who end up falling foul of the law will be treated differently from somebody from a comfortable middle-class family who becomes a bit of a boy racer and ends up running up a number of traffic offences. He can have any amount of such convictions disregarded through spent convictions, but somebody from a marginalised community cannot. This does not make sense. It is not proportionate and it is not fair. I do not see why we would even consider it.

Going back to what we were discussing earlier, on the initial matrix in the legislation, surely it was within the remit or capabilities of the Department to state a driving offence could not be spent while the person in question was serving a ban. Surely this could have been included in the legislation rather than stating there must a blanket seven years for everybody. The Minister stated nuances are possible with regard to children and working with children, whereby offences must be disclosed for jobs with children but not for other jobs. It is possible to do this within the legislation.

This is a backwards step. It does a disservice to the many people who have convictions from years ago hanging around their necks which they will never be able to have spent. We have had presentations in the audio-visual room from English groups working on spent convictions. A young person who falls foul of the law will accumulate a number of convictions over a period of time, perhaps 18 months or two years, during which they go off the rails, and we are telling them they will never be considered as having the conviction spent. We are telling them they cannot participate in employment. Much has been made by the Government about how it is keeping the recovery going and getting people back to work. What we are saying to these people is no matter how they reform their lives and how much they put themselves back together and get back on track, we will not recognise it in the State. For this reason, I oppose the amendments.

2:35 pm

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
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I support the points made by Deputy Pringle. A young fellow may find himself in a bad place, which sometimes happens, and unable to get out of it for one reason or another. As we are aware, this is not rocket science as most of the people affected bring many problems to the table. I do not really understand the rationale behind the idea that repeat offenders should be so penalised. If I were 20 years of age, from a troubled background, and could not get a job and I was stealing for a living, I would not steal once but many times. I might have robbed 20 houses over a four-year period and was convicted for them, and then got out and robbed another ten houses because things were not much better when I got out and I had no proper place to live and no proper support, and just could not find friends. I might have been caught and convicted again, but ended up in a more rehabilitative situation and really learned that I had to help myself as well and that I had to take a different approach when I got out because I did not want to be in there any more. Such people come out with a whole new approach after getting some help and having a bit of maturity on their own part. The idea we would continue to label them indefinitely because they have been repeated offenders and had committed crimes which are very unacceptable to society is very harsh and unforgiving, particularly if we do not give that person another chance in life. It behoves every human being to forgive others, no matter what we do. People can change, but it will not really work if we take a different approach to this fact as we will never improve these people. This is my feeling on it.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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To reiterate, particularly to Deputy Wallace, we are ensuring the vast majority of offences which come under the legislation, which are motoring and public order offences, even where there are multiple offences, can be considered spent after seven years. We want to increase the number of convictions which can be spent. With regard to the other offences, obviously from the point of view of employment it goes without saying people with convictions can apply for jobs. Where no third party is involved, such convictions can be covered, even if committed on multiple occasions, after seven years. What we are saying is where there is a pattern of multiple offences against other persons, such as where there is theft, assault or robbery, the rights of employers comes into play, and the right of an employer to know this.

With regard to the period of seven years, we have not done this lightly. We have had much discussion with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. To take up Deputy Pringle's point, SI 697/2011 deals with serious offences with regard to drivers. At present in the regulations a conviction must be declared for ten years, so if we wanted compatibility between what is in the legislation and what is in the transport legislation we could have provided for ten years. It is 11 years in the UK, by the way. The Department of Transport, Tourism and Support has agreed to reduce it in the statutory instrument to seven years

I am very pleased we are progressing this legislation. It is important that people have this opportunity, as has been stated by a number of Deputies, to wipe the slate clean and have the benefit of such legislation.

That is going to be the case in respect of the great majority of offences. This legislation covers over 80%. However, we are speaking about other, more serious offences where there is third party impact. Four years would cover armed robbery, for example, and I do not think anybody would say that conviction should be spent after seven years. One can argue about the time periods and the offences, but what we are putting forward has come about as a result of a great deal of discussion. This legislation has, unfortunately, been much delayed. I am pleased to be able to bring it to the House today and I think the amendments we are making will make a difference. I am sure Deputies in the House today have received many representations in respect of this Bill because, as Deputy Wallace and others have said, it impacts on behaviour when people were much younger. They just want to move on and feel the present requirements regarding disclosure are quite a heavy burden. Having the spent convictions legislation now means that after a certain period they effectively will not be disclosed, apart from the exceptions I have spoken about.

2:45 pm

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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The exceptions are the problem. I have had representations from a number of constituents who are still suffering under convictions going back 30 or 40 years, when they were completely different people. Under the legislation the Minister is proposing, those people will still only be able to get one spent conviction, so it will be of no value to them and will not make any difference to their lives. That is the crux of the problem. In our criminal justice system, we should be setting out and recognising that people can be rehabilitated, that people can change their lives and turn their lives around, rather than constantly penalising them because of mistakes they made in the past. That is the problem with this legislation.

As a result of the unlimited number of road traffic offences, the Government is distinguishing between classes of people who might be able to avail of spent convictions. It will have a significant detrimental impact and will lessen the positive impact this legislation could have for people. The Minister is right in saying the vast majority of convictions can now be classed as spent. That is because the vast majority of convictions in the District Court are road traffic offences. It does not really matter and it does not really help the people who need the help. It does not really help the people we as a society have failed.

If we look at the legislation that has been put through here in recent months, particularly the Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Act, people who are given custodial sentences for burglaries - young teenagers and people in their early 20s - are more likely to reoffend. They are less likely to reoffend if they do not get a custodial sentence. A young person may get a burglary conviction this year and another one next year. Why would they bother applying for a spent conviction? They can only get one of them spent. The second one stays on their record forever.

The Minister has spoken in her response about the rights of employers. Are they the only people we are interested in? What value is it to an employer to know that somebody might have had one or two convictions for assault 20 years before that? They have become a completely different person in those 20 years, but what we are saying to them is that they are not, they never will be and they will never be considered as that. We are saying the right of their employer to know they made a mistake 20 years ago is more important than their right to be able to contribute to society.

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
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The Irish Penal Reform Trust makes a simple point when it says the length of time since a person has offended is the clearest indication that they have moved away from offending behaviour, and not the number of times they may have offended in the past. Likewise, the people who commit road offences, like myself, are not necessarily the people who need the most help in society. The people who commit crimes like burglary generally come from a more deprived background and a more difficult and less privileged life. One would think these are the people who need more of a break than the likes of ourselves who are all liable to be caught for road offences because we drive vehicles. I will go back to a very strong principle that I believe in, namely, that the State's primary obligation is to take best care of those who most need its help. People do not commit crimes such as burglaries and attacks on the person when they are well. They do not do that when they have a healthy life. They do that because they are troubled, they are not well, and if they had the capacity to try to make good and rehabilitate, surely society and the Government have an obligation to give them the maximum opportunity to make that new life.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I take the points that have been made. The Government has taken a particular position in respect of serious offences and whether they should be considered spent and in respect of repeat offences. It has made the decision, as I have outlined. One can make the case that has been made by the Deputies in regard to multiple offences. There might be public concern about the idea that multiple convictions for offences such as robbery or serious assault could be considered spent. The Government has made a decision, I have outlined that decision and I am not in a position to accept the amendments today, but this is legislation that can be reviewed.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 31:

In page 5, to delete lines 7 and 8 and substitute the following:“ “relevant sentence” means a custodial sentence or a non-custodial sentence or both, as the case may be;”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Amendment No. 32 may be discussed with amendments Nos. 58 to 62, inclusive, 66 and 67. Recommittal is necessary in this case.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendment No. 32.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 32:

In page 5, to delete lines 9 to 16.

The term "relevant work" is already used in the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 and in this context it means work that comes within the ambit of that Act. To avoid any confusion in language and ensure consistency in the use of terms, these amendments are proposed. "Specified work" means work in respect of which the provisions of Part 2 of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill will not apply, as defined by Schedule 3. "Relevant work" means work that comes within the ambit of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012. It is a technical amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill reported with amendment.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 33:

In page 5, line 25, to delete “Act” and substitute “Part”.

Amendment agreed to.

2:55 pm

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 34:

In page 5, between lines 36 and 37, to insert the following:"(3) For the purposes of this Part, a conviction of a person by the District Court—
(a) which is appealed by the person to the Circuit Court, and

(b) is affirmed or varied by the Circuit Court,
shall, as so affirmed or varied by the Circuit Court be treated as if it were a conviction imposed by the District Court.".

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 35:

In page 5, to delete lines 37 to 44, and in page 6, to delete lines 1 to 37 and substitute the following:"Convictions which may be regarded as spent in certain circumstances

2. (1) Where a person is convicted of an offence, whether before or after the commencement of this Part, and the conditions specified in subsection (2)are satisfied, then subject to provisions of this Part, the conviction may be regarded as a spent conviction.
(2) The conditions referred to in subsection (1)are the following, namely:
(a) the person shall be a natural person and shall have attained the age of 18 years at the date of the commission of the offence which is the subject of the conviction concerned;

(b) not less than 7 years shall have passed since the effective date of conviction;

(c) the sentence imposed by the court in respect of the conviction shall not be an excluded sentence;

(d) the person shall have served or otherwise undergone or complied with any sentence imposed, or order made by the court in dealing with the person in respect of the conviction concerned.
(3) Subject to subsection (5), no more than one conviction may be regarded as a spent conviction and if a person has more than one conviction, this section shall not apply to that person.

(4) Where in any proceedings before a court, a person is convicted of 2 or more offences which are committed simultaneously or arise from the same incident, and the court in passing sentence, imposes more than one relevant sentence in respect of those offences, the convictions shall be regarded as one single conviction.

(5) Subsection (3)shall not apply to a relevant sentence imposed by the District Court on a person in respect of an offence under—
(a) the Road Traffic Acts 1961 to 2015, other than section 53 of the Road Traffic Act 1961,

(b) section 37A of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988, or

(c) section 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 8A(4) or 9 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994.".

Amendment put:

The Dáil divided: Tá, 72; Níl, 16.


Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Clare Daly and Thomas Pringle.

Amendment declared carried.

3:05 pm

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Amendments Nos. 36 and 37 conflict with amendment No. 35 and therefore cannot be moved.

Amendments Nos. 36 and 37 not moved.

Photo of Tom HayesTom Hayes (Tipperary South, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 38:

In page 6, to delete lines 38 to 48.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Tom HayesTom Hayes (Tipperary South, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 39:

In page 7, to delete lines 1 to 8.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Tom HayesTom Hayes (Tipperary South, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 40:

In page 7, line 9, to delete “Act” and substitute “Part”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Tom HayesTom Hayes (Tipperary South, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 41:

In page 7, line 10, to delete “Act” and substitute “Part”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Tom HayesTom Hayes (Tipperary South, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 42:

In page 7, line 20, to delete “Act” and substitute “Part”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Tom HayesTom Hayes (Tipperary South, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 43:

In page 7, line 22, to delete “Act” and substitute “Part”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Tom HayesTom Hayes (Tipperary South, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 44:

In page 7, line 32, to delete “Act” and substitute “Part”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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I move amendment No. 45:

In page 7, to delete lines 42 to 49.

The amendment seeks to remove the courts' ability to use spent convictions during a person's trial. As it stands, the legislation allows for a person's history of spent convictions to be used as evidence during a trial, even when the spent conviction may not be relevant to the crime being tried. It is a step too far. A spent conviction should not be allowed to be used as evidence in a trial. The only reason for which a spent conviction would be used in a trial would be to discredit the person on trial. There is a proviso in the text that the court must be satisfied in all circumstances that justice cannot be done except by so admitting or requiring the evidence concerned.

I do not think that is a sufficient protection. I do not think it should be permissible for spent convictions to be taken in as evidence, especially in the trial phase. The only reason they would be used in such a way is to undermine the case of the accused in the minds of the judge or jury. For those reasons, I propose that we delete the relevant power from this legislation.

3:10 pm

Photo of Clare DalyClare Daly (Dublin North, United Left)
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I would like to echo some of the points made by Deputy Pringle on this incredibly important amendment. The whole basis of this legislation is that a mistake made by someone in his or her past should be left in the past. By ensuring that mistake stays in the past, we will give the person in question the ability to learn from it and to move forward with his or her life. That is the whole basis of this Bill. A kind of exception is being provided for in the section of the Bill that Deputy Pringle is seeking to amend. The section in question provides that a person whose conviction is expunged if he or she meets all the criteria and goes through the process might somehow have that conviction brought back to life if a judge deems that to be necessary. The measure that Deputy Pringle is seeking to change seems to be based on an unspoken assumption that people with spent convictions are more likely to reoffend. That would be the only basis upon which this evidence could be introduced in court proceedings. A conviction is either spent or it is not. There should be no exception to that rule. I do not think we should allow the criminal history of a person who has met all the criteria to be resurrected in a trial basically to make him or her look bad. This legislation should be about allowing people to move on with their lives. I suggest that if we allow this section to proceed, we will go against the whole grain of rehabilitation in a way that brings us back to the outdated sort of philosophy that informed the vindictive punishment model we are trying to move away from. It is incredibly important for Deputy Pringle's amendment to be accepted because it will ensure the courts are not able to avail of this exception to the spent conviction rule. If we accept the legislation as it currently stands, we will basically be saying that the conviction is not spent, even though it is, if that is what the judge deems. That does not make any sense to me.

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
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The exclusion of spent convictions from general court proceedings is to be welcomed. The Irish Penal Reform Trust has queried the circumstances that might require courts to deviate from this general approach. They are described in section 6(2) of the Bill as circumstances in which "justice cannot be done except by so admitting or requiring the evidence" of spent convictions. The provisions of section 6(3), allowing exclusions to be made in a number of specific types of legal proceeding, seem reasonable and proportionate. However, I suggest that the exclusions set out in sections 6(3)(c) and 6(3)(d) are vague and require further clarification. I believe we are opening an opportunity for an abuse of power at the expense of the individual who is before the court. I suggest that it is something that should be avoided. The idea that former offences may be thrown back like this as the prosecuting authority sees fit just does not stack up. It completely militates against the whole idea of deeming convictions to be spent convictions in order to give people a clean bill of health in respect of their former offences. I do not know how anyone could make a rational argument in favour of this unusual measure. Under no circumstances would I give a prosecuting body this power in these circumstances because I would be just looking for it to be abused.

Photo of Tom HayesTom Hayes (Tipperary South, Fine Gael)
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I apologise on behalf of the Minister, who has had to step out for a few minutes. She will be back as soon as possible. We have to oppose this amendment because its effect would be to provide that a court could not have regard to a spent conviction in proceedings relating to similar offences. It would mean that when a person was being sentenced for an offence such as theft, dangerous driving causing harm, burglary or assault causing harm, the court could not have regard to a similar conviction which had been spent. We cannot accept such an amendment.

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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It was obvious that the Minister was going to oppose this proposal. I have to return to what I said earlier about the ability of the Department to frame legislation that should do things. I suggest it would be quite reasonable to provide that the spent conviction would have to be relevant to the case in point. That is not what this Bill proposes, however. It provides that such information may be introduced as evidence and that it will be up to the judge to decide whether it is accepted as evidence. I think that is the problem with this part of the legislation. I do not see anything that changes that.

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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I call Deputy Wallace or Deputy Daly. I do not mind.

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
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Do not be confusing us now.

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Not at all.

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
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I have nothing to do with her.

It is disappointing that we are almost assuming the Government will not accept our amendments. I do not think that is how the parliamentary process should work. I would like someone to count the number of Opposition amendments that have been accepted in this Chamber during the five years I have spent as a Member of the House. I suggest that anyone who does so will not reach very high numbers. People get criticised for not challenging legislation in here, and rightly so, but it is disheartening that the chances of our amendments being accepted are so small. All we are really doing is putting it on the record that we do not exactly agree with what the Government is doing. The parliamentary process does not actually work its way out. If it did, Ministers would be entertaining the odd amendment. We feel that they do not entertain our proposals. This has been my first five-year term in this House and it could be my last term. Maybe things were the same before this term, but I do not know because I was not here. I suggest that a proper parliamentary process would allow for an honest acknowledgement of amendments that are made in a rational fashion and stand up to scrutiny.

Photo of Clare DalyClare Daly (Dublin North, United Left)
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The caveats and exclusions provided for in the legislation as drafted were supposedly designed to ensure we have a just and proportionate system. However, I do not think it was drafted in a sufficiently careful manner. I agree with the first point made by Deputy Pringle, which is that there is no reference to previous convictions being "relevant to the crime being tried". To be honest, I do not think the proposed exclusion should apply at all because it is contrary to the whole spirit of the Bill. The unspoken implications of the proposed exclusion are that the criminal history of a person with a spent conviction is still there - it has not disappeared and will chase the person in question - and that it is more likely than not that the person in question will reoffend. If this approach were not based on such implications, why would this evidence be needed? As far as I am concerned, if there is sufficient evidence to charge someone with burglary, for example, it should be irrelevant that he or she committed a burglary previously. I refer to circumstances in which there has been a huge gap between the commission of the two crimes. If the gardaí and the prosecuting counsel have evidence to link someone to the crime for which he or she is on trial, what that person did in the past should have nothing to do with that trial. If we do not approach this issue in such a manner, we will be telling people that their convictions will never be spent because they will always be dogged by them in certain circumstances. I do not think this Bill provides for sufficient scrutiny of those circumstances, which should be overseen transparently. To be honest, if the prosecution is doing its job properly, the past history of the person being prosecuted will be an utter irrelevance.

Photo of Tom HayesTom Hayes (Tipperary South, Fine Gael)
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In very limited circumstances, the courts accept evidence that relates to previous offences. Obviously, we cannot interfere with what the courts are doing. That is as far as I can go in this regard.

Amendment put:

The Dáil divided: Tá, 10; Níl, 69.


Tellers: Tá, Deputies Mick Wallace and Thomas Pringle; Níl, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe.

Amendment declared lost.

3:25 pm

Photo of Paudie CoffeyPaudie Coffey (Waterford, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 46:

In page 8, line 1, to delete “Act” and substitute “Part”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Paudie CoffeyPaudie Coffey (Waterford, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 47:

In page 8, line 10, to delete “2011” and substitute “2015”.

This is a minor drafting amendment to update the reference to the Child Care Acts to include reference to the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2015.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Amendments Nos. 48 and 49 are related and will be discussed together.

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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I move amendment No. 48:

In page 8, to delete lines 29 to 31.

I oppose this section, which grants unlimited powers to the Garda to seek information relating to an individual's spent convictions when it is investigating a crime. The legislation appears to place the onus on an individual being questioned by the Garda to disclose spent convictions. I believe that does away with the purpose of spent convictions. We are saying that people can be rehabilitated and their convictions will not be taken into account, but then we say that they must disclose them in an interview with the Garda. The section also goes on to relate this to applications for Irish citizenship. A spent conviction is by its nature spent, so why should somebody have to disclose it if he or she is applying for naturalisation in the State? It does not make sense to go down that route.

There is also a lack of clarity. Perhaps the Minister will clarify whether a spent conviction will be removed from the Garda PULSE system when it has been deemed to be, and is classified as, spent. How can we be assured that will be the case, particularly when one notices the propensity of some gardaí to leak information about individuals when it suits them? How does that conform with the requirement for privacy and rehabilitation, particularly with regard to the UK court cases and the human rights implications of that? The onus should not be on the person to disclose it. Indeed, if it is not removed from the PULSE system, the gardaí are already aware of it when they interview the person. That is the reason I propose this amendment.

Photo of Clare DalyClare Daly (Dublin North, United Left)
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Are we discussing amendment No. 49 as well?

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Yes.

Photo of Clare DalyClare Daly (Dublin North, United Left)
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As Deputy Pringle said, amendment No. 48 deals with the provision in the Bill whereby if somebody is being interviewed by gardaí and is asked about previous convictions, he or she must tell them about a conviction even if it has been expunged. This is utterly ludicrous. When is a spent conviction actually spent? There are so many exclusions that the idea of providing a template whereby people can leave their past behind is being eroded at every level. It has not been disappeared. If we cannot answer the question about whether that information is removed from PULSE, we have a serious problem. How would anybody know that the obligation is on him or her to inform the gardaí? If somebody has a spent conviction and has his or her record expunged, presumably that person would believe that was the end of the matter, given that everybody says this is being done to allow people to get on with their lives. How are people supposed to know they have that obligation in the first place?

Again, this links to the points about the courts. The problem with all of these issues and exclusions is that, underlying it all, we are really saying that although we are talking about rehabilitation and saying that people can do things when they are young and then reform themselves and move on with their lives, we do not really believe that, because these provisions mean that we believe that if somebody has done something and had a record previously, it means he or she is more likely to do it again. Otherwise, why would we seek this information? That is the underlying hint. It goes against the entire intent of the legislation. We made the point in earlier discussions that most of the people who appear before the criminal courts in Ireland are young men between the ages of 18 and 25. By the time they are 30 they have settled down and tried to get on with their lives. However, if we include all of these exclusions it will not be possible for them to do that. It will make it very difficult.

Amendment No. 49 deals with the fact that information must be revealed where somebody has been found guilty of or has served a sentence for insurance fraud. Again, this must be seen in the context of the unscrupulous insurance industry, which really does not need any excuse to exclude people from insurance cover, make it difficult for them to get cover or increase their premiums. That is not appropriate either, and we should remove it. If something is expunged, it is expunged, and that should be the end of it.

3:35 pm

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
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I find it strange that an individual with a spent conviction - in other words, one who is supposedly forgiven - must, on finding himself being interviewed by gardaí, tell them he really was a criminal in the past. If he is being interviewed by gardaí, he will more than likely be trying to prove his innocence in the process of the interview. He may be dealing with a member of the force who will presume he is guilty until he can prove himself innocent. If he has to tell such a garda that, by the way, ten years previously he did something and was convicted as a result, although the conviction had since been spent, he would be placing himself at a serious disadvantage. It would be grossly unfair.

On amendment No. 49, I note the provision that one has to tell an insurance company about a spent conviction. Most people's experience of dealing with insurance companies, including mine, is that they are not the most pleasant at all times. It is obligatory, however, and we have to deal with them. A friend of mine who never crashed a car in her life and is 58 years of age was caught for drinking and driving and served her time. She is now looking for insurance for her car again. While the quote was €350 before she lost her licence, the insurer now wants €2,000 because of her conviction. Insurance companies are difficult enough to deal with without giving them more ammunition against people with spent convictions. As such, I would appreciate it if the Government would take another look at amendments Nos. 48 and 49.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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As Deputies have said in the last few minutes, if someone has a conviction expunged and forgiven through the passage of time, a shadow or cloud will always remain over him or her. In certain circumstances, the person will have to declare and identify that cloud in a self-assessment. There is something profoundly and deeply uncivil in that. I ask every Member to consider how he or she would feel, in the context of true forgiveness and absolution, if one of his or her own family members, such as a son or daughter, who had paid the price of earlier transgressions during a difficult period and had corrected matters and come to a responsible understanding and realisation of his or her obligations as a citizen and the mutual respect that involves, nevertheless faced the enactment of legislation by society which prevents forgiveness. There is something deeply unsatisfactory and profoundly ungenerous and uncivil about it. In Roman times, when there were slaves and punishments for minor transgressions were brutal, people were branded on their foreheads with red-hot irons. In those days, that was the only way to hold a past act of criminality against a person. Why it is so absurd is this. There are crimes of yesteryear which are no longer crimes. Nevertheless, people were convicted of those crimes. The law changes. It is man-made and is often absurd. Most of the time, there is no fairness in it. For instances, insurance mutualisation means that companies prefer to select and profile risks and condemn people into profiled risk classes, as opposed to having an understanding of a family in which one person may have an advantage in his arrival into this world over a brother or sister who has serious disadvantages. Within the family, which is society, we look out for one another. If we do not forgive somebody who has made atonement, which means to be "at one," to reconcile and to be forgiven and absolved, we will have fallen short and been nothing other than miserable, ungenerous, uncivil and inhuman. The amendments as put capture the better sentiments and aspects of what we are trying to achieve in a civil society and a community that allows people to correct for past mistakes rather than to keep admitting to them. It is a form of bullying that these clouds can suddenly materialise again. It is not right and we know it. If a Member's son or daughter had gone through a rocky patch, paid the price for a crime, undergone his or her punishment and not been forgiven by society, what would it say about our society?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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The effect of these amendments would be that gardaí could not have regard to a spent conviction in investigating subsequent similar offences by the same person and insurance companies could not keep records of insurance frauds perpetrated by persons whose convictions were spent. Deputy Mathews might want to listen to the following. The section that is sought to be deleted provides that a person who is convicted of fraud, deceit or dishonesty in respect of a claim under a policy of insurance or a policy of assurance shall not be excused under section 5 from disclosing any such convictions on an insurance proposal or form or any assurance proposal or form as the case may be. I am not sure whether Deputies are clear that anything that is dealt with under the legislation that is a spent conviction will not have to be disclosed to the insurance company. It is only in respect of insurance fraud that a spent conviction will have to be disclosed. It is important to make that point. It is not reasonable to expect the Government to agree to the amendment and remove that provision from the legislation. An insurance company has a right to know about an insurance fraud that has been perpetrated on them when considering a new policy. The amendment proposes that they would not have the right to that information.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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What about other spent convictions?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I take Deputy Wallace's point about the case he cited, but I remind him that after the seven-year period, the conviction to which he referred would come under the category of spent convictions and the woman would be in a different position with regard to the insurance company.

3:45 pm

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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The Minister might not have been present for the question on the PULSE system and whether spent convictions would be removed from it. This matter relates to amendment No. 48 and interviews with the Garda. Amendment No. 49 highlights how it is possible to do this for certain employment when the Department sees fit to do so. The theme running through this legislation is the need to protect employers, insurance companies and, as we will see later, the Civil Service. It is possible to be selective when one wants to be and not to protect people who may have made mistakes previously. This is part of my reason for tabling the amendment.

Photo of Clare DalyClare Daly (Dublin North, United Left)
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Regarding the subject matter of amendment No. 49, why is the Minister doing this? The interests of the insurance industry are being prioritised above the interests of the citizen. The inference, one that everyone makes instinctively, is "Once a fraudster, always a fraudster," and there is an assumption that the person will do it again. Even if someone who committed insurance fraud, which is a reprehensible crime by which we are all naturally disgusted, has that conviction expunged, what does the Minister believe will happen if it is revealed to the insurance industry? Why would the person tell the industry? He or she will either be refused or fleeced on an insurance policy. Even when people make non-fraudulent claims, they get fleeced by increased premiums because that is the nature of the insurance industry. Why is it necessary to tell the industry? It has records of the claim and the payment being made and will probably bleed the person dry anyway. The amendment moves us away from that position.

Either we accept that someone can change his or her behaviour or we do not. It is as simple as that, and Deputy Mathews put it eloquently. If that is true for the insurance industry, it is doubly true for people's dealings with the Garda. If someone has a spent conviction and a record that has been expunged, it means that a long time has passed since he or she was found guilty of unlawful behaviour. If a person finds himself or herself in a Garda station being questioned about a type of crime that he or she has not committed in a long time and must disclose information, it will go against the grain of the concept of innocent until proven guilty. If the type of crime is similar to what the person had a conviction for, the garda's ears will prick up and the person will become a person of greater interest than was already the case. That is human nature, but it goes against the notion of the conviction having been spent in the first place.

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
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The Minister stated that my friend's case would qualify as a spent conviction after seven years, but my friend believed she had been suspended for 12 months, not seven years. What the Minister is really saying is that, even though my friend has served her suspension, she will serve it for a good while longer because she cannot afford to pay the €2,000 per year that the insurance company can charge her.

The provision being addressed by amendments Nos. 48 and 49 lacks a recognition of rehabilitation having occurred. It happens sometimes and it needs to be recognised. This would be positive, and the Minister should reconsider the amendments.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Regarding drink driving, the sentence would be a three-year driving ban for a first offence and six years for a second.

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
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A person would usually be let off half of that the first time around.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I do not know how much the insurance companies would welcome this amendment. The Deputies are making the opposite case, namely, that insurance companies still have the potential to know about certain of these offences. I remind the Deputies that the majority of motoring offences fall under this legislation. The period is seven years. All offences in the District Court and multiple other offences relating to this matter fall under the Bill. This is a substantial move away from the current situation in which there is zero recognition. Until the Bill is passed-----

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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The Minister is right. That was very bad-----

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Yes.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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-----but we are still a little bit bad.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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It has been delayed for a period, but we have the legislation now and a system of spent convictions. Our system is more progressive than those in many other countries. The Law Reform Commission recommended six months, but we are going for a year. Deputy Pringle argued persuasively about circumstances in which it had been quite some time since the offence was committed. It is possible that his suggestion should form part of the system in the future, but I am not in a position at the moment to revert to the Cabinet to suggest it. Any review would have to take it into account.

Amendment put:

The Dáil divided: Tá, 18; Níl, 70.


Tellers: Tá, Deputies Thomas Pringle and Mick Wallace; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.

Amendment declared lost.

4:00 pm

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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I move amendment No. 49:

In page 8, to delete lines 39 to 43.

Amendment put:

The Dáil divided: Tá, 17; Níl, 69.


Tellers: Tá, Deputies Thomas Pringle and Mick Wallace; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.

Amendment declared lost.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 50:

In page 8, line 44, to delete "Act" and substitute "Part".

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 51:

In page 9, line 2, to delete "Act" and substitute "Part".

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 52:

In page 9, line 7, to delete "Act" and substitute "Part".

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 53:

In page 9, line 16, to delete "Act" and substitute "Part".

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 54:

In page 9, line 19, to delete "Act" and substitute "Part".

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Amendment No. 55 is in the name of Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn. As the Deputy is not present, the amendment falls.

Amendment No. 55 not moved.

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 56:

In page 9, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following:"9. Where in respect of a person who has a conviction which is, in accordance with this Act, regarded as a spent conviction, a state other than the State requests information in respect of a citizen's criminal record, any conviction which is deemed to be spent shall not appear in the response of the State, save where there is a specific enquiry in relation to spent convictions.".

Deputy Olivia Mitchell and I have jointly tabled this amendment. Deputy Mitchell sends apologies for her absence, which was unavoidable as she is on Oireachtas business elsewhere. She also asked me to speak on the amendment on her behalf.

This is groundbreaking legislation. Other jurisdictions passed spent convictions legislation many years ago and Ireland is one of the few countries that have not yet done so. As such, the Bill, on which we in the Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality did some work, is very welcome.

The issue is that spent convictions operate mainly by self-declaration; after a certain amount of time, a person may declare whether he has a conviction. In many cases the person can say he does not, because any conviction is deemed to have been spent. Moreover, the Garda will not divulge in many cases if someone has a spent conviction. I know that in some countries where this has been in vogue for a long time, one country recognises the spent conviction of another country.

(Interruptions).

4:05 pm

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Sorry. There is still a high noise level in the Chamber. Could those people who are having conversations have them outside the Chamber, please? Another bell is ringing in the Seanad. I am sorry; everything is coming together.

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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One country recognises the spent convictions of another country. I wonder whether efforts will be made to engage with other jurisdictions in order that spent convictions here can be recognised in other jurisdictions and vice versa. That would be useful to know because, if that were the case, it might make these amendments redundant.

A friend of mine in another jurisdiction contacted me recently. He was about to be promoted to a serious position in his company and he needed a police record from here. He was very concerned because when he was a youngster of 18 or 19 years of age he had a conviction for possession of a small amount of cannabis. He was concerned that this would come against him and he asked me what he could do about it. I told him the best thing he could do was to go to his employer and tell him. He did so and there was no issue.

The amendments Deputy Mitchell has put together aim to ensure that if there is a spent conviction in this country and a request from another jurisdiction comes to the authorities here, then the authorities do not divulge anything. I understand from looking at the website of the Irish Penal Reform Trust that, if required by the immigration authority of a country that an Irish person wishes to enter, that person would have to declare all spent convictions unless there is an agreement between the two countries.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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I have actually been too lenient towards you. I thought this was a new amendment, but it has already been discussed. My apologies to Deputy Pringle as well. According to my note, it has already been discussed.

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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Which amendment?

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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This amendment.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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No.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Has it not? Then that is wrong. Amendment No. 55 was not moved. Sorry; please continue. Deputy Mac Lochlainn was not here and I did not spot it. The grouping includes amendments Nos. 55 to 57, inclusive. Please continue.

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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I know that even if a person has a conviction, it does not automatically mean he will be barred from entering or working in another country, but it might slow things down. That is where these elements are coming from.

It is simply a matter of putting on record the concern over whether, and at what level, there is any intention to engage other jurisdictions in order that spent convictions here can be recognised in other jurisdictions and vice versa. It is a self-declaring and self-administering system in the main, but there is also a role for the State, as these amendments portray.

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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I support this amendment. It is important and should be taken on board in the legislation. Unless it is specifically requested, spent convictions should not be disclosed when another State makes a request.

In the case of amendment No. 57, I question whether an employer should even be able to ask about it in the first place, particularly an employer from outside the State.

The principle is in line with the principle of the Bill in terms of spent convictions. That should be recognised in terms of a person's rehabilitation and rights. There should be no automatic disclosure of spent convictions when requested by another state. For that reason, I support the amendment.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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In the context of this debate, the questions that arise and the clarifications that are sought, it is important to remember some things. The individual citizen, whether a man or a woman and irrespective of age, is the object of all this legislation. The presumptions that some of the institutions have made in the framing and influencing of this legislation are breathtaking.

I offer one example. Deputy Stanton has discussed the matter from the perspective of a prospective employee or a person applying for a job in an institution or a company. Let us consider it - I am saying this carefully. Allied Irish Banks and other banks were convicted of criminality in the DIRT inquiry. Yet the presumption is that the individual who is applying for a job is more at risk or has to be more beholden to the prospective employer in terms of his sanctification before he goes ahead with an interview for the job with a company that is tarnished in so many ways. It is actually unbelievable.

This is why I come back to what I said earlier. We need to think about this legislation in terms of civility, society, community and family. Let us suppose a price has been paid by an individual for a transgression of the law in a criminality context. By the way, as I said earlier, some crimes are crimes from 20 years ago and are no longer crimes today. We need to be careful that we do not lose the purpose of what we are trying to do, which is true forgiveness in a context of rehabilitation, as Deputy Daly, Deputy Wallace and Deputy Pringle have all so clearly and eloquently expressed.

I appeal to the Minister not to lose the essence of what we are trying to achieve. Is there true forgiveness and absolution, or is it a wishy-washy make-believe masquerade that always allows for the conviction to become live again? If that is the case, I do not like it. It is neither healthy nor sane.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I have good news in respect of these amendments and the spirit of these amendments in terms of some recent developments. Each of these provisions has merit and I am fully in agreement with the spirit of the amendments. However, I intend to make these provisions outside this Act. I will go through the detail in order that Deputies are aware of the particular issues involved.

Obviously, we do not have any jurisdiction over convictions in another member state. That is absolutely clear, because every state has different criminal penalties for the same criminal offence. For example, in some countries a particular offences carries a penalty of imprisonment, while in other countries the same offence may carry a fine. We could not have a spent convictions regime for convictions in other states that is structured as this Bill is structured, because the provisions are based on the sentence of a court rather than the specific offence.

However, earlier this week I attended the meeting the justice Council of Ministers. At the meeting it was agreed in principle that spent convictions would not be disclosed between member states under a new EU directive. That is to be welcomed. I believe it will meet the spirit of what Deputies have said. Obviously, we must await the conclusions of the negotiations on the directive in order to give effect to it in law. The directive in question will be given effect in the criminal records (information) Bill, which the Government has already approved for drafting. At the moment, I cannot broaden the scope of this Bill to include the question of convictions in other states. That will have to be dealt with in accordance with the directive currently under negotiation in any case. However, I believe it is a progressive move at a European level and I believe it is the right thing to do.

I agree with amendments Nos. 56 and 57 in principle. Again, I have a difficulty in that notification of convictions to other states falls outside the scope of this Bill. Again, we cannot legislate on how other states assess the relevance of particular convictions, given the very different penalties that apply in different states in respect of the same offences.

We cannot prevent any state from requiring an Irish person travelling abroad to provide a written statement of any criminal convictions. However, as I indicated earlier, I have made provision outside this Bill in regard to the criminal record information that the Garda will include in police certificates. I recently wrote to the Garda Commissioner advising that the offences which are not disclosed in Garda vetting applications for persons working with children should also not be included in police certificates. That will be of significant assistance in dealing with the issues we have discussed.

4:15 pm

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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I thank the Minister. It is a significant move. The issue arose during Committee Stage, and at that stage such a provision was not envisaged. It is a great breakthrough at European level. I am curious as to whether it is intended to open discussions with other countries, such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, to which many Irish citizens like to travel. Could some form of understanding be reached in respect of the same issues as will be the case with all of the European jurisdictions?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I imagine the focus will be on the directive at European level. Clearly, it will be a more complex situation when we enter into negotiations with other countries. I take the Deputy's point on other states and the impact on Irish citizens. It is very good that, at least at European level, we have a directive. We also have a vehicle to introduce the legislation I mentioned into Irish law. That would be of great benefit if it can be progressed to agreements with the United States and other countries.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 57 not moved.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 58:

In page 9, to delete line 30 and substitute the following:“(a) applies for, seeks or is offered any employment, activity or service specified in Schedule 3(in this section referred to as “specified work”),”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 59:

In page 9, line 32, to delete “relevant work” and substitute “specified work”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 60:

In page 9, line 33, to delete “relevant work” and substitute “specified work”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 61:

In page 9, line 37, to delete “relevant work” and substitute “specified work”.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 62:

In page 9, between lines 37 and 38, to insert the following:“(2) Section 5shall not apply in respect of a person—
(a) who—
(i) applies for, seeks or is offered relevant work or activities specified in Part 1 or 2 of Schedule 1 to the Act of 2012 (in this section referred to as “relevant

work”),

(ii) enters or proposes to enter into a contract of employment to do relevant work,

(iii) applies to another person to do relevant work on that other person’s behalf (whether or not in return for payment or any other consideration), or

(iv) enters or proposes to enter into a contract for services to do relevant work,
and
(b) who has a conviction, other than a conviction to which section 14A of the Act of 2012 applies.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendment No. 63.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Amendment No. 64 is a physical alternative to amendment No. 63. Amendments Nos. 63, 64, 68 and 75 are related and will be discussed together.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 63:

In page 9, to delete lines 38 to 48.

The purpose of amendment No. 63 is to delete a provision which would allow certain categories of work not already listed in Schedule 3 to the Bill to be excluded from the Act by order of the Minister. I am proposing this amendment, as the Minister responsible, because any such extension should be brought before the Oireachtas by way of an amendment or addition to Schedule 3 to the Bill, which lists excluded work. Any exclusions of positions of employment from the Act should only be done with Oireachtas approval. This would mean that the amendment tabled by Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan was no longer necessary. I do not know whether she is moving her other amendments.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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The amendments are being discussed together.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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If Deputy Sullivan is not in the House, can they still be moved?

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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They can be moved by other Members. We have to take the grouping together.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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While I agree with the principle behind amendments Nos. 68 and 75 in the name of Deputy O'Sullivan, these amendments are also unnecessary.

I wish to make an important point to the House. Information relating to cautions, investigations without charge and dismissals under the Probation Act 1907 are already covered by the Data Protection Acts. Section 2 of the Data Protection Act provides that sensitive personal information includes any information relating to "any proceedings related to an offence committed by a person or the sentence of any court in regard to such offence". Under the provisions of the Data Protection Act, the Garda may not disclose such information except as provided for in law. To do so would be a breach of the Data Protection Acts, and the use of such data by the Garda is already monitored and supervised by the Data Protection Commissioner under the Data Protection Acts. Therefore, there is no necessity to make any such provision in this Act.

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal South West, Independent)
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I welcome the decision of the Minister to delete the two relevant subsections. It is a pity we did not have the choreography that was evident in the last amendment before we came to the House. It was a very serious aspect of the Bill because it would have allowed a Minister free rein to make the entire Civil Service out of bounds for anybody with a spent conviction.

Whoever is elected to the next Dáil will have to remain vigilant. It is to be hoped I will be one of those elected. Future Deputies will have to keep an eye on what the legislation will actually entail in terms of the leeway the Minister will have. It is vital that the Data Protection Commissioner and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission are required to be consulted on any of the provisions of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to. Bill reported with amendment.

Amendment No. 64 not moved.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 65:

In page 10, between lines 1 and 2, to insert the following:“ “Act of 2012” means the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012;”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 66:

In page 10, line 15, to delete “relevant work” and substitute “specified work or relevant work”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 67:

In page 10, line 17, to delete “relevant work” and substitute “specified work or relevant work”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 68 not moved.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 69:

In page 11, to delete lines 11 to 14.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 70:

In page 11, line 15, to delete “Act” and substitute “Part”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 71:

In page 11, line 16, to delete “Act” and substitute “Part”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 72:

In page 11, line 19, to delete “Act” and substitute “Part”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 73:

In page 11, line 21, to delete “Act” and substitute “Part”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 74:

In page 11, line 23, to delete “Act” and substitute “Part”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 75 not moved.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 76:

In page 11, to delete lines 24 to 29.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 77:

In page 11, after line 29, to insert the following:
“PART 3

AMENDMENT OF ACT OF 2012
Definition for purposes of Part

15.In this Part “Act of 2012” means the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendments Nos. 78 to 82, inclusive.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 78:

In page 11, after line 29, to insert the following:“Amendment of section 3 of Act of 2012

16. Section 3(1) of the Act of 2012 is amended by —
(a)the substitution of “or vulnerable persons;” for “or vulnerable persons.”, and

(b)the insertion of the following paragraph after paragraph (c):
“(d) the employment of, or entering into a contract for services with, a person either by or on behalf of the State Examinations Commission, for the purposes of the performance by the person on a temporary basis of any functions in respect of the conduct and delivery of examinations to which Part VIII of the Education Act 1998 applies.”.”.

This is a minor drafting amendment. The Department of Education and Skills requested this particular wording so as to make it clear that school students who perform minor functions in assisting exam superintendents during examinations do not require Garda vetting. It is a straightforward amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 79:

In page 11, after line 29, to insert the following:“Amendment of section 7 of Act of 2012

17.Section 7 of the Act of 2012 is amended, in subsection (2)(f), by the substitution of “scheduled organisations” for “scheduled bodies”.”.

This is a minor drafting amendment to ensure consistent use of the term "scheduled organisations" throughout the Act.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Amendments Nos. 80 and 83 are related and will be discussed together.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 80:

In page 11, after line 29, to insert the following:“ Amendment of section 9 of Act of 2012
18. Section 9 of the Act of 2012 is amended —
(a) in subsection (3), by the substitution of the following paragraph for paragraph (k):
“(k) subject to subsection (9), in a case where he or she has a criminal record, particulars of such record;”,

and
(b) by the insertion of the following subsection after subsection (8):
“(9) A person shall not be obliged to provide details of any convictions to which section 14A applies.”.”.

The purpose of the amendment is to provide that a prospective employee for a position of employment covered by the Act is not required to inform a prospective employer of an old minor conviction which would be excluded from disclosure under section 14A. It is a protection for employees. In addition, the vetting bureau will not disclose such offences in vetting disclosures.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 81:

In page 11, after line 29, to insert the following:“Amendment of section 12 of Act of 2012

19.Section 12 of the Act of 2012 is amended by—
(a) the insertion of the following subsection after subsection (3):
“(3A) Where 2 or more relevant organisations jointly agree in writing to the employment, contracting, permitting or placement of a person to undertake relevant work or activities, it shall be a defence in any proceedings brought against a person for an offence under subsection (2) to show that another relevant organisation who was party to the agreement received a vetting disclosure in respect of the employment, contract, permission or placement of the person concerned.”,
(b) the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (4):
“(4) In the case of the employment of, entering into a contract for services with, permitting or placement of any person to undertake relevant work on a casual or part-time recurring but non-continuous basis with the same relevant organisation, the obligations placed on a relevant organisation pursuant to subsection (1) shall, subject to section 20, be regarded as being satisfied where the relevant organisation concerned received a vetting disclosure in respect of the person in respect of that initial employment, contract, permission or placement, as the case may be.”,
and

(c) the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (5):

“(5) This section shall not apply to the following:
(a) any employment, contract, permission or placement that commenced or was entered into, given or made, as the case may be, before the commencement of this section;

(b) any employment, contract, permission or placement on a casual or part-time recurring but non-continuous basis with the same employer where the initial employment, contract, permission or placement, as the case may be was entered into, given or made as the case may be, before the commencement of this section;

(c) any employment, contract, permission or placement, including a casual or part-time recurring but non-continuous employment which was not entered into before the commencement of this Act but in respect of which a relevant organisation had, before that commencement, requested and received vetting information in respect of the person who was the subject of the employment, contract, permission or placement concerned from the national unit of the Garda Síochána known as the Garda Central Vetting Unit.”.”.

This amendment amends section 12 of the vetting Act. It is a practical amendment. The new section provides a defence where two organisations jointly share responsibility for employment replacement of a person and agree in writing that one of these organisations will conduct the vetting.

It was brought to my attention that this situation arises a good deal, for example, in third level colleges where students are placed on work experience or in community organisations where a person may be working in a voluntary capacity for a number of organisations. This has been raised by organisations where multiple vetting was being requested, and the amendment makes it explicit that once they have been vetted once by the employer, the requirements of the Act are met.

Amendment agreed to.

4:25 pm

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 82:

In page 11, after line 29, to insert the following:“Amendment of section 13 of Act of 2012

20.Section 13 of the Act of 2012 is amended—
(a) by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (2):
“(2) A relevant organisation may submit an application for vetting disclosure under this section on its own behalf or on behalf of another relevant organisation that the organisation represents for the purposes of the vetting procedures under this Act and, where a relevant organisation submits an application on behalf of another relevant organisation, it shall⁠—
(a) inform the Bureau of that fact and provide the Bureau with the particulars referred to in section 8(5), and

(b) provide or make available, in written or electronic form, a copy of the vetting disclosure received from the Bureau to the relevant organisation that it represents or on whose behalf the application for vetting was made.”,
(b) in subsection (5), by the substitution of the following paragraph for paragraph (l):
“(l) subject to subsection (6A), in a case where he or she has a criminal record, particulars of such record;”,

and
(c) by the insertion of the following subsection after subsection (6):
“(6A) A person shall not be obliged to provide details of any convictions to which section 14A applies.”.”.

The purpose of this amendment is again to provide a number of clarifications so that the provisions of the Act will be correctly interpreted.

Subsection (a) amends the existing subsection (2). It makes it explicit that where an organisation submits an application on behalf of an organisation it represents for the purpose of vetting, it must pass on the vetting disclosure to the relevant organisation. The wording "provide or make available" is used here to reflect the fact that the manner in which the disclosure is passed on will vary. It may be provided by post, by fax, by e-mail or by any means which allows the end user to produce a written copy. In the case of vetting of teachers, for example, the Teaching Council will use the same vetting disclosures to consider the eligibility of teachers to be registered as teachers, and will make them available in a secure manner to school employers, with the consent of the teacher and using a teacher-controlled personal identification number, PIN.

Subsections (b) and (c) provide that persons applying for vetting are not required to disclose any of the old minor convictions which are not included in a vetting disclosure under the provisions of section 14A. Again, it is clarifying some of the discussions we had earlier.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 83:

In page 11, after line 29, to insert the following:“Amendment of section 14 of Act of 2012

21. Section 14 of the Act of 2012 is amended—
(a) in subsection (4)(a)(i), by the substitution of “subject to subsection (4A), particulars of the criminal record” for “particulars of the criminal record”, and

(b) by the insertion of the following subsection after subsection (4):
“(4A) Where a person who is the subject of an application for vetting disclosure has a conviction to which section 14A applies, the conviction shall be excluded from the vetting disclosure made by the Bureau in respect of the person.”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 84:

In page 11, after line 29, to insert the following:“Certain convictions are not required to be disclosed

22. The Act of 2012 is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 14:
14A. (1)This section applies to a conviction by the District Court of a person in respect of an offence where the following conditions are met in respect of the conviction:
(a) the person to whom the conviction relates shall be a natural person and shall have attained the age of 18 years at the date of the commission of the offence which is the subject of the conviction concerned;

(b) the offence shall not be an excluded offence;

(c) not less than 7 years has passed since the effective date of conviction;

(d) the person shall have served or otherwise undergone or complied with any sentence imposed, or order made by the court in dealing with the person in respect of the conviction concerned;
(2) Subject to subsection (4), this section shall apply in respect of one single conviction only and where a person has more than one conviction this section shall not apply to that person.

(3) Where in any proceedings before a court, a person is convicted of 2 or more offences which are committed simultaneously or arise from the same incident, and the court in passing sentence, imposes more than one sentence in respect of those offences, the convictions imposed shall be regarded as one single conviction.

(4) Subsection (2) shall not apply to a conviction imposed on a person in respect of an offence—
(a) under the Road Traffic Acts 1961 to 2014, other than section 53(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1961,

(b) under section 37A of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988,

(c) under section 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 8A(4) or 9 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994.
(5) In this section—

“effective date of conviction” means, in relation to the imposition by the District Court of a sentence for an offence, the date on which the sentence becomes operative in accordance with the order of the court;

“excluded offence” means—
(a) an offence specified in Schedule 3, or

(b) an offence specified in Part 1 or 2 of Schedule 1 of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016.
(6) For the purposes of this section a criminal conviction of a person by the District Court—
(a) which is appealed by the person to the Circuit Court, and

(b) is affirmed or varied by the Circuit Court, shall, as so affirmed or varied by the Circuit Court be treated as if it were a conviction of the District Court.”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendments No. 85 to 91, inclusive.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 85:

In page 11, after line 29, to insert the following:“Amendment of section 16 of Act of 2012

23.Section 16 of the Act of 2012 is amended—
(a) in subsection (1), by the substitution of “a relevant organisation (other than a relevant organisation who applies for vetting on behalf of another relevant organisation in accordance with section 13(2)) contains” for “a relevant organisation contains”,(b) by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (2):
“(2) A relevant organisation (including a relevant organisation who applies for a vetting disclosure on behalf of another relevant organisation in accordance with section 13(2)) to whom a vetting disclosure is made in accordance with this Act may⁠—
(a) consider and take into account the information disclosed in the vetting disclosure when assessing the suitability of the person who is the subject of the disclosure to undertake relevant work or activities, and

(b) to the extent that it is so authorised by law other than by virtue of this section, consider and take into account, in accordance with such law, the information disclosed in the vetting disclosure when assessing the suitability of the person who is the subject of the vetting disclosure to be registered, licensed, considered fit to practice or otherwise authorised (howsoever described) to undertake relevant work or activities.”,

and

(c) in subsection (3), by the substitution of “otherwise than in accordance with this Act or as otherwise authorised by law” for “otherwise than in accordance with this Act”.”.

The purpose of this amendment is to make it clear that a vetting disclosure may be used by the relevant organisation to consider the suitability of the person to be employed. In addition, the new subsection (2) provides that the vetting disclosure can also be used for the purpose of registering, licensing or considering the fitness to practice of a person, where this is provided for by law. This is to ensure that where other legislation such as the Teaching Council Act or the Health and Social Care Act make provision for a vetting disclosure to be used for such purposes, this is explicitly recognised in the 2012 Act.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Amendments Nos. 86 and 87 are related and will be discussed together.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 86:

In page 11, after line 29, to insert the following:“Amendment of section 20 of Act of 2012

24.Section 20 of the Act of 2012 is amended⁠—
(a) in subsection (1)—
(i) by the substitution of “under this Act in respect of a person or, vetting information issued in respect of a person by the Garda Central Vetting Unit before the commencement of section 12,” for “under this Act in respect of a person,”, and

(ii) by the substitution of “application for vetting” for “further application for vetting”,

and
(b) in subsection (3), by the substitution of “without reasonable excuse fails to comply with” for “contravenes”.”.

The purpose of the amendments is to clarify the procedures in regard to re-vetting and retrospective vetting.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 87:

In page 11, after line 29, to insert the following:“Amendment of section 21 of Act of 2012

25.Section 21 of the Act of 2012 is amended—
(a) in subsection (1), by the substitution of “vetting disclosure under this Act or, a request made before the commencement of section 12 to the Garda Central Vetting Unit for vetting information in respect of the person concerned,” for “vetting disclosure under this Act,”,

and

(b) in subsection (3), by the substitution of “without reasonable excuse fails to comply with” for “contravenes”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 88:

In page 11, after line 29, to insert the following:“Amendment of section 31 of Act of 2012

26.Section 31 of the Act of 2012 is amended by—
(a) the designation of that section as subsection (1),

(b) the substitution, in subsection (1), of “vetting information” for “vetting disclosure”, and

(c) the insertion of the following subsection after subsection (1):
“(2) Where, before the commencement of this section, a person had appealed a determination made by the Garda Central Vetting Unit in respect of the person but the appeal had not been concluded before that commencement, then the appeal shall be deemed to be an appeal under section 18 and shall be dealt with accordingly and, any step taken before such commencement in relation to the appeal (being a step required to be taken under this Act in relation to an appeal under this Act) shall be deemed to have been taken under this Act.”.”.

The purpose of this amendment is to make explicit that where, before the commencement of the Act, any persons have appealed the disclosure of any information which would come under the description of "specified information" the appeal may be concluded in accordance with the provisions of this Act. This means that any cases currently under way once the Act comes in can be continued in accordance with the provisions here. That means that the person can have a right to an oral hearing and can ultimately appeal any proposed disclosure to the High Court, in accordance with this Act. It means that regarding any cases under way, the person can avail of the provisions in this Act for appeal to the High Court. They are transitional provisions.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 89:

In page 11, after line 29, to insert the following:
“PART 4

Miscellaneous
Amendment of

27.The is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 127:
“Regulations relating to fees for provision of vetting services

127A.The Minister may—
(a) after consultation with the Garda Commissioner, and

(b) with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, make regulations prescribing fees in relation to the provision of vetting services in accordance with section 7(l).”.”.

The vetting Act already allows in section 32 for fees to be charged for vetting. However, not all Garda vetting is covered by the 2012 Act. For example, vetting of public sector appointees or vetting for road transport licences or private security licences is provided for in other pieces of legislation. This amendment is proposed in order to create a provision identical to section 32 of the vetting Act in the Garda Síochána Act. That way, if vetting fees are to be introduced it can be done under one piece of legislation, the Garda Síochána Act, and will not require piecemeal amendments to different pieces of legislation.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 90:

In page 11, after line 29, to insert the following:“Amendment of Schedule 1 to Act of 2012

28.Schedule 1 to the Act of 2012 is amended—
(a) in paragraph 7 of Part 1, by the substitution of “any religious beliefs to children unless such work or activity is merely incidental to the advancement of religious beliefs to persons who are not children” for “any religious beliefs”, and

(b) in paragraph 7 of Part 2, by the substitution of “any religious beliefs to vulnerable persons unless such work or activity is merely incidental to the advancement of religious beliefs to persons who are not vulnerable persons” for “any religious beliefs”.”.

The purpose of this amendment is to make it explicit that any work or activity as a minister or priest or other person engaged in the advancement of religious beliefs requires vetting if the person is working with children or vulnerable persons but not if the person is engaged in general work within the community. This replicates the wording already used in regard to other employments listed in the schedules.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 91:

In page 11, after line 29, to insert the following:“Amendment of Schedule 2 to Act of 2012

29.Schedule 2 to the Act of 2012 is amended by the insertion of the following paragraph after paragraph 11:
“12. The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.”.”.

This relates to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC. GSOC investigates allegations of offences committed by gardaí. This amendment provides that if GSOC has information arising from its investigations suggesting that a person would pose a threat to children or vulnerable persons it must inform the vetting bureau.

Amendment agreed to. Bill reported with amendments.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 92:

In page 11, after line 29, to insert the following:“Excluded offences for purposes of section 14A

30. The Act of 2012 is amended by the insertion of the following Schedule after Schedule 2:
“SCHEDULE 3
Section 14A
EXCLUDED OFFENCES FOR PURPOSES OF SECTION 14A
1. An offence under section 17 of the Domestic Violence Act 1996.

2. An offence under the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997.

3. An offence under section 246 of the Children Act 2001 (cruelty to children).

4. An offence under section 176 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 (reckless endangerment of children).

5. An offence under section 80 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005.

6. An offence under section 41 of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007.

7. An offence under section 44 of the Nurses and Midwives Act 2011.

8. An offence under section 49 of the Nurses Act 1985.

9. Any offence under the following provisions of the Dentists Act 1985:
(a) section 50;

(b) section 51.
10. An offence under section 32 of the Pharmacy Act 2007.

11. An offence under section 56 of the Teaching Council Act 2001.

12. An offence under the Firearms Act 1925.

13. An offence under the Firearms Act 1964.

14. An offence under the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act 1990.

15. An offence under section 31 or 32 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988.

16. An offence under the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 to 2015, other than a first offence under section 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977.

17. An offence under section 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 or 19 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994.”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 93:

In page 12, line 6, to delete “this Act” and substitute “Part 2of this Act”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 94:

In page 12, line 19, to delete “this Act” and substitute “Part 2of this Act”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 95:

In page 12, line 37, to delete “this Act” and substitute “Part 2of this Act”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 96:

In page 13, line 8, to delete “this Act” and substitute “Part 2of this Act”.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 97:

In page 15, to delete lines 1 to 52, and in page 16, to delete lines 1 to 42.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 98 and 99 not moved.

Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.