240. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to remove the prohibition on temporary release for those offenders who receive the presumptive mandatory sentence for a drugs or firearms offence as recommended by the strategic review group on penal policy in 2014. [24999/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Criminal Justice Acts 2006 and 2007 provide for the prohibition of persons serving minimum sentences for certain offences under the Firearms and Misuse of Drugs Acts from being granted temporary release “unless for grave reason of a humanitarian nature”.
The sentences and provisions attached to the offences in question were introduced on foot of concerns regarding the impact that these particular types of offences have on individual communities in particular and on society in general.
In November 2015, in a challenge to the constitutionality and disproportionate nature of such a prohibition, the High Court found that the provision was not unconstitutional and that it was not disproportionate in that it allows the sentencing judge discretion to deviate from the minimum sentence in certain circumstances and that the prohibition on the granting of temporary release is not an absolute one in that it allows the granting of temporary release in certain circumstances.
The Minister will keep this recommendation under review, and there will also be an opportunity to discuss its implications further in debates on proposals currently before the House in relation to parole.