Seanad debates

Friday, 30 June 2006

Criminal Justice Bill 2004: Second Stage.


12:00 pm

John Minihan (Progressive Democrats)

Preserving and promoting justice for Irish citizens is a core objective of my party. In Government, the party has striven at every opportunity to ensure that the Ireland of 2006 is as safe as possible. Today's legislation is a significant part of that process. Certain Members have expressed dissatisfaction with the delay in bringing forward this legislation but when one considers the inclusive manner adopted by the Minister and the Government in preparing it, from the day it announced its intention to do so, we see in the legislation before us the benefits and rewards of that work.

We are working to make Ireland safe. Although Ireland is a comparatively safe place by any reasonable assessment, that fact might be lost in some of contributions by Members today. Reference is often made to the everyday practices and habits we took for granted years ago, such as the key left in the door, the window left open, the keys left in the car and so forth. People wondered why anybody would need a house alarm. However, these norms have disappeared. This is the case everywhere as society has moved on.

Two points must be made. The first is that although our society has changed and must change, it is still comparatively safe. Second, we must recognise that there exists in society elements and forces whose objectives and modus operandi threaten the property and well-being of decent citizens. The political game we play consists of a manipulation of these two facts. That is accepted, if slightly odd. The Progressive Democrats prefer a factual and constructive debate. The first of the two points will be challenged by the Opposition while the second will be amplified.

People in this country are entitled to view Ireland as comparatively safe. Despite our high speed and high tech societal changes and what those changes bring in terms of challenges, the level of headline crime in Ireland in 2005 was lower than it was in 2002. We can argue until 2022, and I see it starting already, about the effects of societal change but even a cursory glance at population numbers tells a clear story. A total of 3.5 million people lived in this country in 1995; 4.1 million live here today. That is a total of 600,000 extra people but the incidence of crime per 1,000 of the population dropped from 29 to 24.6 over that period. By any fair assessment against other Western democracies, Ireland's crime rate is low.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.