Today marks a historic day in penal reform in Ireland as The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 has finally commenced.
Minister Fitzgerald announced the commencement of this Act along with The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 today. In this statement Minister Fitzgerald recognises the difficulties that previous offenders face with the disclosure of criminal convictions for employment purposes and that “it is in everyone’s interest that offenders who have paid their debt to society and want to leave crime behind are encouraged to do so”. Minister Fitzgerald’s statement can be read in full here: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PR16000094
Whilst we are delighted for the many people that this Act will assist in moving on with their lives, we would like to reiterate that we believe this piece of legislation is limited in its application to certain offences but we are hopeful and strongly encourage that it will be used as a stepping stone to be extended to cover more than one offence (other than minor motoring/public order offences) and lengthen the terms of imprisonment permissible under the Act from 12 months to 48 months.