Seanad debates

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Parole Bill 2016: Committee and Remaining Stages


10:30 am

Photo of Gerard CraughwellGerard Craughwell (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I will not take much of the Minister's time in what I have to say. One of the great things about being in the Seanad is that we can sit and listen to debate and different sides of the argument. Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell's passion and conviction in this area is beyond question, as is her commitment to Advic. Those who have suffered at the hands of the cold-blooded murderers we are speaking about deserve more certainty in their lives.

I see what Senator Bacik is speaking about and I accept that a more determined system would probably be better where we could have some certainty when people are being sentenced, but we are faced with a Bill that is going through today and the amendment, unless I am completely misreading it, is very simple. What we are doing is giving discretion to judges where the most horrendous crimes take place. I fully agree with Senator Bacik that murder occurs for many different reasons and rationales. I am mindful of murders that took place in Ireland in 1976 or 1977, when two men went on a rampage throughout the country and one unfortunate young girl was pulled out of a lake in Connemara. These guys came here with nothing else to do. That is what they wanted to do. They wanted to murder young women. To think they could find themselves before a parole board in seven or 12 years would be unthinkable. I remember the period in Galway at the time. The entire city was in absolute terror because it was known these guys were in town. When they were eventually put in jail surely to God it was not beyond the capability of the judge to state they should not go before a parole board for 20 years. It happens in other jurisdictions.

I agree with the approach of Senator Bacik, and I accept that if a Bill comes at some stage in the future we would amend this, but right now I fully support Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell in what she is trying to do. I fully support the people in Advic. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be the mother or father of a murdered child and to see the murderer 12 years later walking down the street. I cannot imagine what that must be like. I always think of that young boy - I cannot remember his name - who was taken on his way home from lunch at school. Every now and then his name comes up.


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