Irish Daily Mail

FF welcomes promise on tough sentences for knife crime

- By Brian Mahon

FIANNA Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan has welcomed a commitment by Simon Harris for tougher knife-crime sentences, three years after the former brought forward legislatio­n on the matter.

At Fine Gael’s Ard Fheis on Saturday, Mr Harris made a number of commitment­s on law and order, designed to tackle the perception that the party is weak on the issue. He said: ‘This year, we will bring forward new measures to increase penalties for knife crime and new measures on antisocial behaviour, which has become too dominant in communitie­s.’

Welcoming the move, Mr O’Callaghan, pictured, said: ‘Three years ago I introduced legislatio­n to increase the maximum sentence for carrying a knife with intent to cause injury to another.

‘The purpose of that legislatio­n was to increase the maximum sentence from five to ten years. This proposal had been in Fianna Fáil’s election manifesto but for some reason did not make it into the Programme for Government.’ He said the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Bill 2021 that he had introduced was approved by Dáil Éireann at the second stage in July 2021, but never proceeded any further because his proposal did not receive the support of Justice Minister Helen McEntee. He added: ‘Part of the explanatio­n for it not proceeding was that increasing penalties for knife crime was not part of the Programme for Government and was viewed by the minister as unnecessar­y.

‘Simon Harris said that “this year we will bring forward new measures to increase penalties for knife crime”. I welcome this change of approach. It is interestin­g, however, to observe how a good idea that was ignored by Government can be resurrecte­d when promoted by a different politician.’

Mr O’Callaghan said he has written to the chair of the Oireachtas Justice Committee asking that the committee stage of his legislatio­n be ‘progressed immediatel­y’.

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