New bail law approved by Oireachtas

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan

Legislation providing increase guidance for the courts and greater transparency in the bail process has been approved by the Oireachtas.

The Criminal Justice Bill 2016 completed its final legislative stages yesterday.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said it would “strengthen the powers of the Courts, and of the Gardaí, in dealing with persistent serious offenders and persons on bail who pose an ongoing threat to the public”.

Under the Bill, courts will be required to take additional factors into account when considering whether to refuse bail to serious offenders including the extent to which the nature and frequency of previous offending indicate persistent offending and the danger to individuals or the community, which may be presented by release on bail.

Courts will also have more options in imposing conditions on those who are granted bail, including prohibiting an accused from contacting victims, prohibiting him or her from driving when charged with a serious road traffic offence, and the imposition of a night-time curfew.

Other features of the bill include electronically monitoring compliance with bail conditions when requested by the prosecutor, hearing victim evidence at bail proceedings and a requirement that the court give reasons for bail decisions.

Mr Flanagan added: “This Government has placed a strong emphasis on tackling serious and persistent offending.

“The passage of this bill marks another important step in preventing repeat offending and keeping our communities safe.”