Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Bill 2012
First Stage: 3 Feb 2016
Oireachtas Link: http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20authoring/debateswebpack.nsf/takes/seanad2016020300002?opendocument#O00100
Report and Final Stages: 03/02/2016
Wednesday, 3 February 2016
Senator Ivana Bacik: I thank the Minister for reading that explanation in the House. It was important to do so because group 6, in particular, dealt with some substantive changes to the Bill that were debated in the Dáil. I know there was some concern, particularly from the Irish Penal Reform Trust, regarding the fact that only one conviction can be spent. However, I accept that as the Minister said, there are significant exceptions to that rule. These are welcome and will undoubtedly assist many people. These are the exceptions pointed out by the Minister - that public order offences and most driving offences are exempted from the provision that only one conviction may be spent. I know there are some exceptions included in Schedule 1 regarding sexual offences. This is welcome, because like many colleagues I have received communications from individuals who are anxious to see this Bill enacted because it will give them greatly improved prospects for employment and rehabilitation.
I thank the Minister for raising these substantive points. I accept that most of the amendments we are dealing with today are technical and there to deal with the vetting legislation, but it was worth hearing the Minister's comments on the more substantive amendments and I thank her for them.
Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."
Senator Ivana Bacik: I welcome this Bill as an important piece of progressive penal reform. I compliment the Minister on all the work she has done and echo the comments made by Senators Conway and Wilson. She is an able and reforming Minister and she has always been so courteous and easy to deal with. I thank her for allowing so many Bills to start in the Seanad, which is important. She has steered through many significant justice Bills and this is just one of them. This is very progressive; for the first time in the history of the State, adults with convictions will be able to have those convictions considered spent. I really welcome the fact that this will apply to anybody who has a conviction with a sentence of up to 12 months. We should not forget that the original proposal was much more conservative. I welcome the legislation and thank the Minister for bringing it here. I also thank her officials, who have worked so hard. It has been a pleasure to work with officials in the Department of Justice and Equality over the past five years.
I thank Senators Conway and O'Donovan, my colleagues from the Seanad on the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, along with Senator Zappone. We have worked very well together on justice matters and we have had much work to do over the past five years. The justice committee has been described as the Bruce Springsteen of committees, hard-working and under-reported. We have done much work with the Minister, and I thank her for that. I forgot to thank the Whips, Senators Wilson, Hayden and Coghlan, but it has been great to work with them. The Bacik family connection in Cavan was mentioned, and it is nice to be related, even on an honorary basis.