As I said before the lunch break, I suppose it would be difficult to measure the effects, whether they be financial, social or the psychological implications, on the victims of crime. Between now and the Bill going to the Seanad I would ask the Minister to re-examine this area. My interpretation of the position as it stood was that, as of now, the courts had discretion to vary their decisions in relation to crime. I should have thought that the Judiciary when deciding on sentences to be imposed, whether it be a custodial sentence or a fine, would already have taken into account the provision included in this amendment of Deputy Gilmore.
What should emerge clearly from discussion of this Bill is that we here are determined to take action, where necessary, in order to correct the imbalance clearly perceived by the public that it would appear to be offenders who come out better than the victims of crime. I am not for a moment suggesting that Deputy Gilmore is asking that we go down that road. Nonetheless we must be very clear about the implications of the provisions of this section. For example, a person's car can be stolen or burned, which will have certain implications on the victim in that he or she may be unable to travel to work, take the children to school and so on. On the other hand, in the case of somebody attacked in the street, with visible signs of that attack, that victim may well suffer psychological effects that will not necessarily be shown. In that case who is to decide? Are we putting the onus on a victim to produce the necessary evidence for the courts to take this decision? The amendment, as drafted, does not make the position very clear to me.
The important message that must emanate from this House is that the provisions of this Bill, which have been awaited for a long time to close many loopholes the Garda encounter out on the streets, must be seen to be effective once enacted. We must also remember that the Garda must interpret the legislation and that we must not place too many complications in their way in their implementation of the law.
I might refer to the issue of victim support referred to earlier this morning. The Association for Victim Support paid tribute last week to the Minister on her overall approach to the matter of crime. I would appeal to the Minister to recognise the tremendous work they are doing within the community. They visit people who have been the victims of crime, engage in tremendous work and are in need of financial support. Having met them in Cork last week and having attended a function at which certificates were awarded to ten people within a particular community, I heard their national chairman pay tribute to the work the Minister is undertaking. They said they were looking forward to working with the Minister and to the enactment of legislation that will adequately reflect the needs of the community at large who look to us as legislators and to the Garda to give them the support they deserve and indeed to reverse the imbalance in this area clearly perceived by the community at large.
I urge the Minister to examine the amendment in greater detail before the Bill goes to the Seanad for consideration.