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Sinn Féin secures Sentencing Guidelines for Judges

22 May, 2018 - by Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin has welcomed the confirmation that the Government has agreed to the demand for Sentencing Guidelines, as ‘a huge breakthrough.

The Party had been in negotiation with the Government in relation to the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, and had sentencing Guidelines as the key ask.

Speaking today Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD said;

“This is a very significant breakthrough particularly for victims of crimes. Far too often we have seen victims feeling severely wronged as the perpetrators of the crime have been faced with inadequate, and inappropriate sentencing.

“No one would envy the judiciary the job of devising sentences, whether for minor crimes, or serious crimes. The majority of Judges balance these considerations well.

“However it is important that there is public confidence in and understanding of, the approach taken to sentencing.

“Indeed recently, a High Court Judge has described the lack of sentencing guidelines in rape cases as ‘somewhat bizarre’.

“According to Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh, ‘One judge’s substantial could be four years and another’s could be 14 years. It’s somewhat bizarre that an area that is so sensitive has so little in the way of guidance for a trial judge.’

“Even though sentencing guidelines are common in many countries, and have been supported by organisations such as the Rape Crisis Network, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, the Irish Penal Reform Trust and the Irish Council of Civil Liberties, there is currently no statutory provision for this in Ireland.

“The current Judicial Council Bill does not make any provision for the drafting of Guidelines, however, commitment has now been given that this will take place.

“So this is a very significant development and I hope it will deliver greater structure, information, and consistency, in relation to how sentences are calculated and what sentences are handed down.”

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