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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 12 Mar 1998

Vol. 488 No. 6

Written Answers. - Bail Act, 1997.

Jim Higgins


3 Mr. Higgins (Mayo) asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason he has not yet signed the commencement order for the Bail Act, 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6852/98]

The Bail Act, 1997, was passed into law by the Oireachtas in May last year. Section 13 of the Act provides that the Act, or any particular provision or provisions of it, will come into operation by order to be made by the Minister.

I have informed the House in response to previous questions that the provisions of the Act have not been brought into force because existing prison accommodation would not be able to deal with the additional demand. I am sure that all Members agree that we need to avoid a situation where convicted persons would have to be released to make space for additional remand prisoners.

I have also indicated to the House that I was keeping the matter under continuous review in the context of the major prison building programme which I have under way at present which includes a new remand prison for 400 beside Wheatfield.

It remains the case that prison accommodation is not yet adequate to bring the provisions of the Bail Act generally into force at this stage. However, I can inform the House that, in the light of the continuous review which I have mentioned, I will shortly sign an order bringing section 10 of the Act into force. That section amends section 11 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, with the aim of strengthening its provisions in relation to the imposition of consecutive sentences for offences committed while on bail.

I will be in a position to make that order shortly in view of the fact that in so far as additional consecutive penalties arising under that section have to be served these will not generally impinge immediately on demand on prison accommodation and by the time they would be expected to come into effect sufficient additional prison accommodation would be available to cope with this.

I will continue to keep the matter under review with a view to bringing other provisions of the Act into operation as quickly as possible.