Updated 22nd June, 2011
On 11th May 2011, Dara Calleary TD introduced a Private Member's Bill: the Spent Convictions Bill 2011.
This Bill was previously published by Barry Andrews as a Private Members Bill in 2007, before being adopted as a Government Bill that passed Second Stage in 2008. The 2007 Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the last Dáil in February 2011.
The Bill as reintroduced was debated at Second Stage on 7th and 8th June, 2011. A number of TDs raised issues around: the need to support offenders in their efforts to move away from criminal behaviour; the six month sentence limit for spent convictions as too short; the 5/7 year rehabilitative periods as too long; and concerns about blanket exclusions on public sector work. All speakers were in support of the urgent need for this legislation.
Read the proceedings of the Spent Convictions Bill 2011: Second Stage and Referral to Select Committee here:
Minister Shatter addressed the members, stating that he intends to publish "a new improved" Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2011 shortly, adding that:
"The 2007 Bill has been the subject of considerable debate and the considered contributions of a number of parties, including the Irish Human Rights Commission and the Irish Penal Reform Trust, will be reflected in the Bill that I will introduce."
Minister Shatter's speech can be read here.
Thejournal.ie also reported on the progress of the Spent Convictions Bill in an article published 17th June 2011, stating that the Bill "has actually been published by Fianna Fáil and backed by the Government as an interim measure."
The article reports that: "When agreeing to allow the bill pass its first stage, though, the Government said the Fianna Fáil version of the bill had shortcomings and that it would have to formulate a batch of amendments in order to reform it as needed."
Read the full article on thejournal.ie here.
IPRT welcomes the return of Spent Convictions debate to the Dáil chambers, and will continue to campaign strongly for the passing of robust and effective legislation.
To get involved in the IPRT campaign, please contact Fiona at IPRT.