Call for a Debate with the Minister for Justice and Law Reform
Tuesday, 07 June 2011

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: Last year criticism was expressed about newspapers that printed only bad news. A few of us said that we would make sure we have good news. I came across some good news today. NUI Maynooth has become the first and only university outside North America to be included in the 2012 edition of The Princeton Review, a guide to the best 376 colleges. It is good news. Let us ensure we look for good news every now and then...

I ask the Leader to consider inviting the Minister for Justice and Law Reform to the House for a wide-ranging debate. My attention has been drawn to a number of points that have cropped up in recent times. One was the reference by the Director of Public Prosecutions to the annual bill for gardaí waiting for cases that do not take place as they are cancelled when they come to court. The bill came to €17 million. That is an issue we can do something about.

In another case, a judge referred to the need for a garda to accompany prisoners to court every time they are mentioned. Even if it is only to remand the prisoner, he or she must be accompanied from a prison to the court. It takes two gardaí and a driver to take one prisoner and three gardaí and a driver to take two prisoners. Very often, nothing takes place and it is just mentioned that the prisoner has been remanded for another two weeks, for example. In Northern Ireland that is done by video link. It seems to me that it should be possible to do that. On that basis, the amount of Garda overtime, money spent and Garda time wasted does not make sense.

When the Minister for Justice and Law Reform comes to the House, could we ask him about the 2007 Coroners Bill which lapsed when the Government changed? I do not know why that was the case. The Bill was initiated in 2007 but it has not come into operation yet. It must come into operation at some point because it is required under European regulations. The European Convention on Human Rights has demanded that we ensure the required steps take place. These are some of the points the Minister for Justice and Equality could handle in the Seanad. It would give Members an opportunity to express their feeling on what should take place. I believe the Minister would welcome the opportunity to come before us to hear the views of Members.

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