It was a packed house for the IPRT information seminar on Spent Convictions and Garda Vetting, which took place on 12th June, 2013 in Pearse St Library, Dublin 2.
'Breaking the Record - Moving On?' focused on two important and related legislative developments - the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012 and the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 - and both teased out and sought to address outstanding legal issues with regard to both pieces of legislation and how both systems will work in practice.
Speakers were: Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes, who chaired the event; Senator Jillian van Turnhout who spoke on the legislative process around spent convictions and her viewpoints as children's rights advocate; Mary Cunningham, Director of the NYCI who spoke on child protection, vetting procedures and supporting rehabilitation; and Remy Farrell SC who addressed legal issues arising.
A vigorous Q&A session following the presentations highlighted a number of ongoing issues for former offenders and their families.
IPRT has been campaigning for spent convictions legislation for many years, the absence of which amounts to lifelong punishment for often very minor offences.
At least half of the phone and email queries that IPRT receives relate to spent convictions and/or Garda vetting – a symptom of both the lack of official information available, and also the number of people affected. The the vast majority of these queries are from people who received a conviction for a minor offence such as drunk and disorderly, sometimes committed 2 or 3 decades ago, and who continue to experience barriers to work, training, and emigration.
For more information about IPRT’s Spent Convictions campaign, visit: www.iprt.ie/spent-convictions