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Shootings and Early Houses

25 June 2008

Order of Business

Senator Ivana Bacik: I am not sure whether there can be a bit of a credit crunch. It is like a bit of an earthquake. Either there is a credit crunch or there is not.

Will the Deputy Leader arrange a debate on criminal justice in light of the three shootings in Dublin in the past 24 hours? Shockingly, one of those shootings took place at 1 p.m. yesterday in Drimnagh and one took place last night very close to where I live in the Coombe area of Dublin, the south inner city. We all should be deeply concerned about this. What we have learned from past experience is that knee-jerk reactions in terms of mandatory sentences for firearms offences, etc. do not have the desired effect of preventing these appalling shootings. We need a more measured debate on alternative responses to severe crimes such as these and more long-term solutions in the criminal justice system.

I have attended the fourth annual North-South criminology conference in the Dublin Institute of Technology over the past two days at which very measured academic presentations were given and which provide useful insights for policy makers on approaches which could be taken in the criminal justice system. These include simple matters such as changing and streamlining the way in which we run our criminal justice statistics gathering system. That is vital and I would like us to debate it.

On a slightly related matter, I welcome the announcement by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform that he will not abolish early houses. Anyone who has frequented early houses will know they are generally fairly quiet places to which people go for a pint after a night shift. It is important that he has taken on board the recommendations of people who know the system of early houses and who have been able to advise him that there is not a public order issue. That is useful because it shows that knee-jerk responses do not always work. It was a knee-jerk response to real and serious problems arising from alcohol abuse which led to the suggestion that early house licences should be extinguished. The Minister is now taking a more measured approach to this by saying that the existing 50 licences in place will be retained.