TIME TO ACT
Labour Party and Social Democrats back Irish Sun campaign calling for action on Parole Act 2019
6th December 2020, 8:00 am
THE Labour Party and the Social Democrats today throw their support behind the Irish Sun’s Time to Act campaign to finally commence the Parole Act 2019.
It comes as we reveal that 13 bills, including the Parole Act, are sitting gathering dust having not been commenced despite passing all stages of the Dail and Seanad.
The Irish Sun’s Time To Act campaign calls on the Government to implement the Parole Act 2019 to stop convicted killers from applying for parole after serving seven years of their sentence and every two years after that.
The Parole Act, which passed all stages of the Oireachtas but has yet to become operational, would mean that life sentence prisoners could only apply for parole after serving 12 years.
The Act would also create a new independent parole board with greater transparency which would allow submissions from victims – this has yet to be set up.
The longer the delay in actioning the bill, the more opportunities there are for convicted killers to apply for parole.
The Parole Act is one of 13 bills that have passed through the House of the Oireachtas in the last five years but have still not been fully enacted.
A list of the bills which have yet to be fully commenced despite being signed off on by the President was provided to former Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin.
These include parts of bills that relate to issues such data protection, sexual offences and victims of crime.
Speaking to the Irish Sun, Wexford TD Brendan Howlin said the Labour Party fully support the Irish Sun’s campaign to commence the Parole Act and claimed it is an undermining of legislation when Government delays putting them into action.
He said: “This is obviously something that the Labour Party would support.
“It is a cause of frustration that it takes long enough to get a piece of legislation enacted and that it wouldn’t be enacted upon by departments in a timely fashion is unacceptable.”
He told the Irish Sun: “I think these delays in enacted bills are something we should look at separately to improve things and speed them up.
“There should be a report back on legislation that hasn’t been fully enacted after 12 months with explanations on why progress hasn’t been made. That would be a useful device for the Dail.
“If a bill, every section of which has been debated and passed and signed by the President, then it really is incumbent on a government department as speedily as is practical to make sure it becomes operational.
“It really is an undermining of legislation for departments to delay them.”
Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy has also thrown her party’s support behind our bid to speed up the wheels of justice.
The Kildare North TD said: “There shouldn’t be a delay on this.
“I don’t understand why there would be a delay in commencing this and certainly not for this length of time. Whatever about a month or two but to leave it this long certainly isn’t acceptable.”
The Social Democrat TD said families of victims should have their voices heard by the new independent Parole Board when it is finally set up.
Deputy Murphy said: “Very often our justice system leaves people feeling very disappointed in it because the judicial process can leave victims feeling very alienated.
“I think there is a value in addressing that alienation and this will go some way to closing that gap and we would definitely support the campaign to get this over the line.”
In a response to a parliamentary question on the issue to Deputy Murphy, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said the act would not be enacted until next year.
She said: “A critical path for delivery of this significant priority project is currently being developed, with a view to ensuring full commencement of the Parole Act, which will be achieved in 2021.”