The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter T.D., today announced that the provisions of the Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Act 2011 will come into effect on 13 January, 2012.

The Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Act 2011 clarifies the law concerning the defence of the home.  It recognises in a very practical manner the special constitutional status of a person’s dwelling and makes it clear that a person may use reasonable force to defend themselves in their home.  It allows for the use of such force as is reasonable in the circumstances, to protect people in the dwelling from assault, to protect property, to prevent the commission of a crime, or to make a lawful arrest.  The Act also extends the protections it contains to the curtilage of the dwelling, it explicitly provides that a person is not under an obligation to retreat from their home when subject to an intrusion in their home and provides that a person who uses reasonable force, as provided for in the Act, cannot be sued for damages by a burglar and will not be guilty of an offence.

Making this announcement the Minister said "I am very pleased to announce the commencement of this Act.  The first recourse of any householder faced with an intruder, and where the circumstances permit, should of course be to contact An Garda Síochána, who are best placed to deal with offenders and to investigate criminal offences.  There has previously been a lack of clarity in relation to the rights of a householder who discovers a burglar in their home, which is now resolved by the introduction of this legislation.  The Act recognises the rights of householders to use reasonable force to defend themselves from intruders unlawfully in their home." 

The Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Act 2011 is available on the website of Houses of the Oireachtas

12 January 2012