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Thurles Man Sentenced To A Seven Month Jail Sentence.

Following an appearance at Cork District Court, a 33-year-old Thurles man, named as Mr Thomas Cawley, latter with a current address at Cork Simon Community, St. Nicholas House, Cove Street, Co. Cork, has been jailed for a total of seven months.

His sentence, imposed by Mr Justice Olann Kelleher, follows the abuse of two Gardaí in separate instances, together with the man’s large number of previous court convictions.

Sergeant Mr Pat Lyons said that on August 19th, 2022, shortly before 8:00pm, Garda Mr Barry O’Shea was on foot patrol in the area of Grand Parade, when he responded to a report of an extremely intoxicated man, in the vicinity.

The man resisted arrest and attempted to assault Garda O’Shea while verbally abusing him stating, “I’ll put you through that f***ing window“. When arrested the officer was told to, “F*** off, I’m not going to go anyway”.

Previously, on July 22nd, 2022, at North Main Street, Cork city, the same defendant told Garda Mr Jonathan Corcoran to, “Go eat your f***ing dinner”.

Mr Cawley admitted in court of being drunk around this same period of time at Maylor Street, Emmet Place and St. Patrick’s Street, in Cork city.

Mr Cawley’s solicitor, Mr Eddie Burke, in his defence stated, that the accused was now motivated to address his difficulties and was currently doing so. However, Mr Justice Olann Kelleher, having hear submissions in mitigation, jailed Mr Cawley for a total of seven months.


Prison Officer Graduation Ceremony At Dublin Castle.

The Minister for Justice, Mr Mr Simon Harris, has welcomed the graduation of 131 Recruit Prison Officers at the Print Works, Dublin Castle today. Of the 131 graduating, 23 are women and 108 are men, with 6 of these new recruits recorded as being born outside of the Irish State.

Under Budget 2023, a €6.5m additional staffing package was secured for the recruitment of circa 100 additional staff. Accordingly, the Prison Service has indicated that, overall, it intends on recruiting up to 260 staff in 2023 including Recruit Prison Officers, Work Training Officers, Trades Officers and Nurses.

The new officers have now completed their Higher Certificate of Arts in Custodial care (HCCC) and have already been assigned to prisons throughout the country.

New officers have also been assigned to the Operational Support Group, which prevents contraband entering prisons, detects prohibited articles in prisons and prevent the direction of crime from prisons, and the Prison Service Escort Corp, who escort people in the custody of the Irish Prison Service to and from court appearances and other necessary engagement in the community.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony yesterday evening, Minister Harris said: “I am delighted to be here this evening to welcome and congratulate the new graduates and their families.
This graduation ceremony is a fitting celebration and acknowledgement of the education and hard work undertaken by each of you to date, and your commitment to your careers in the Irish Prison Service.
Being a prison officer means providing safe and secure custody, dignity and care for those in the custody of the State and fundamentally contributing to the rehabilitation within our prisons.
Prison officers wear many hats – you have to be good listeners, coaches, authority figures, but above all else it means bringing humanity to your work each and every day.
As Minister for Justice, I am acutely aware of the vital role you play in the criminal justice system. Victims need to know that where serious crimes are committed, an appropriate sentence will be served. The Government will always appreciate the job you do.
I would like to thank all of you for making this commitment to serving the State. Your work will ultimately change lives for the better and contribute to building safer and stronger communities.”

The Prison Service has also made significant progress in the delivery of training to existing staff. Not only is the training designed and delivered by experienced operational staff, but a significant amount of training is delivered in the “live” environment of a prison.

This training is accredited by south east technological university (SETU) as the Higher Certificate of Arts in Custodial Care and reflects Level 6 of the NQAI framework.

The Higher Certificate in Custodial Care is a two year part-time programme, developed and delivered jointly by the Irish Prison Service and South East Technological University (SETU), which is designed to develop the professional competencies of Prison Service staff in working with people in prison. The Higher Certificate of Arts in Custodial Care is intended to facilitate a greater understanding of how officers can confront challenges through the exploration of different subjects including, Resilience, Mental Health, Social Psychology and Human Rights.


Significant Increase In Judicial Resources Announced.

Significant increase in judicial resources, to improve access to justice, announced.

  • Minister for Justice secures government approval for 24 additional judges to be appointed in 2023.
  • Report recommends a second phase of 20 judges in two phases by 2024.
  • Significant investment will support establishment of Planning and Environmental Court and dedicated Family Courts.
  • Reforms and efficiencies at centre of investment plan.

The Minister for Justice, Mr Simon Harris TD, has today announced that he has secured Government approval to dramatically increase the number of judges to facilitate greater access to justice, support the Government’s priorities to establish a Planning and Environmental Court and dedicated Family Courts, and to clear Covid backlogs.

Minister Harris’s intention is to appoint an initial tranche of 24 new judges in 2023, with a further 20 new judges following the implementation of reforms and efficiencies.

This decision comes following Government approval earlier this week to publish the report of the Judicial Planning Working Group, which can be found here.

The Group was established in 2021 by Minister Helen McEntee to bring a strategic focus to planning the number and type of judges required to ensure the efficient administration of justice in Ireland over the next five years.

Announcing the decision at the Chief Justice’s Access to Justice Conference in Dublin Castle today, Minister Harris said: “I am committed to improving access to justice for all of our citizens and I want to ensure that our Courts are properly resourced to deliver on Government priorities such as a Planning and Environmental Court and new Family Courts.
Having an efficient courts system that provides timely access to justice is of central importance to society. The courts exist to protect our rights and uphold the rule of law, and at some point we are all likely to have reason to interact with the courts system. When we do, it is important that we experience an efficient, fair and timely service that is equally accessible to all.
It is a priority for me, as Minister for Justice, to ensure that the courts are resourced to administer justice efficiently and effectively – this is central to providing access to justice.
I am very pleased to announce Government approval of my proposal to appoint 24 additional judges to the courts in Ireland by the end of 2023. This decision has been recommended by the Judicial Planning Working Group, and informed by an independent review of judicial resource needs by the OECD.
We intend to increase the number of judges in two phases, beginning with 24 additional judges this year and a further 20 judges subject to an assessment of the impact of the initial appointments.
This will ultimately increase the overall number of judges from 173 to 217.
This substantial increase in judicial resources will be complemented by the ongoing implementation of the far-reaching Courts Service Modernisation Plan, for which additional funding has been provided in 2023, as well as strategic reforms to court operations including the frequency, location and management of courts.
Following this, as recommended by the Judicial Planning Working Group, we will further review the efficiencies achieved, and consider on a medium to longer term basis what additional resources might be required.
We must also drive the modernisation and Digital First agenda across the entire Justice Sector.”

To help inform the deliberations of the Working Group, the OECD was commissioned to prepare an independent review of Ireland’s judicial resource needs. The OECD’s report can be found here.

The Working Group’s recommendations and evidence to support the appointment of additional judges take account of the OECD’s findings; the impact of COVID-19 on exacerbating backlogs in the courts system; growing caseloads combined with increased case complexity; population growth; new legislation requiring court resources to discharge including the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015; and policy initiatives under the Programme for Government including a dedicated Planning and Environmental Law Court and a Family Law Bill.

Both the Working Group and OECD have highlighted the need for a substantial programme of change initiatives without which the demand for additional judges would be even higher.

Key proposals to be considered include:

  • District and Circuit Courts sitting 5 days a week;
  • Impact assessment for policy or legislative proposals impacting court operations;
  • Strategic HR for the judiciary;
  • Restructuring the District Court;
  • Reviewing the Circuit Court geographical areas;
  • Additional powers for Court Presidents to manage their court jurisdictions;
  • Extensive recommendations relating to data collection and management.

The Group recommended that the additional judicial resources should be phased in, with subsequent phases dependent on the availability of measurable data and progress in achieving greater efficiency and more productivity within the courts system as a whole.

The Report also highlights the importance of developing a structured system for planning and deploying judicial resources which recognises organisational interdependencies and a whole of system approach.

Minister Harris added: “I want to thank all the members of the Working Group, especially the chair, former Secretary General of the Department of Education, Ms Brigid McManus, for their dedication and exceptional work.
The courts will mark the centenary of the Courts of Justice Act in 2024 and it is appropriate that this will be marked by the most significant reform of the last century.
An independent, impartial, and efficient judiciary and courts system is critical to our democracy and I am confident this injection of new judges and the important reforms recommended will, when implemented, help to improve the operation of one of the State’s most important institutions.
My Department is committed to driving the modernisation and Digital First agenda across the entire Justice Sector. We will work with the Courts Service and the Judiciary to deliver a number of important commitments in the Programme for Government which will help ensure that we have a strong, modern courts service facing into its second century.”


Landmark Policing, Security & Community Safety Bill 2023 Begins Its Legislative Journey.

This Bill has four main objectives:

  • Making the prevention of harm and protection of people, who are vulnerable or at risk, an objective of An Garda Síochána and making the safety of communities a ‘whole of government responsibility.
  • Strengthening and consolidating independent, external oversight of An Garda Síochána.
  • Enhancing the internal governance of An Garda Síochána and the role of the Garda Commissioner as Chief Executive Officer [CEO or highest-ranking officer].
  • Improving the independent oversight of our national security infrastructure.

The Minister for Justice, Mr Simon Harris TD, is pleased to announce that the landmark ‘Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill 2023’ is being debated at Second Stage in Dáil Éireann today, marking the beginning of its legislative journey. The Minister of State with responsibility for Law Reform and Youth Justice, James Browne TD, introduced the Bill to the Dáil today on the Minister’s behalf.

The Bill will deliver on many recommendations made by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI), marking a new departure for policing in Ireland. It provides a comprehensive and robust framework of accountability, governance and oversight of policing and security and a new approach to community safety, focused on the need for collaboration and co-ordination between various State agencies.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “This landmark Bill provides a new framework for policing, security and community safety in Ireland; as recommended by the Commission on the Future of Policing.

It has been developed following extensive consultation with key stakeholders, including An Garda Síochána and the policing oversight bodies, and takes into account the recommendations made by the Justice Committee in its Pre-Legislative Scrutiny Report and the submissions that were made by a range of contributors during that process.

An Garda Síochána play a frontline role in preventing and addressing crime, but the sometimes more unrecognised element of their work is the role they play in preventing harm in communities, particularly harm to vulnerable people; including those suffering from acute mental health issues, addiction issues and homelessness.

Building safer and stronger communities by preventing crime and preventing harm is not and cannot be the responsibility of An Garda Síochána alone. It is a shared responsibility across Government, and it requires the buy-in and collaboration of other Departments and agencies such as health and social services, local authorities and the wider community working together to really effect change. So while this Bill will make the prevention of harm a clear objective of An Garda Síochána, it will also set in statute the cross-Government responsibility for community safety.

The Bill introduces a package of measures to ensure that the oversight framework for policing is coherent; supporting clear and effective accountability and ultimately better policing. It provides for the establishment of a new Policing and Community Safety Authority which will merge the existing broad – ranging functions of the Policing Authority and the inspection function of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, building on their good work to date.

The Bill also provides for reformed processes and procedures for the handling and investigation of allegations of Garda wrongdoing in a new Office of the Police Ombudsman, which will strengthen the mandate of the existing Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.

We are also strengthening internal governance by establishing a new non-executive Board of An Garda Síochána. The Board will oversee the strategic direction of the organisation including the development of the capacity, capability and optimum use of resources and ensuring compliance with An Garda Síochána’s public sector duty under human rights and equality legislation. The Board will also oversee arrangements for managing the performance of the Garda Commissioner. However, the Board’s role will not extend to operational policing or security matters which remain within the remit and functional independence of the Garda Commissioner.
Finally, the Bill will improve the oversight of national security arrangements in the State through the establishment of an Independent Examiner of security legislation.
This was a key recommendation of the Commission’s report, which recognised that responsibility for the security of the State did not rest solely in An Garda Síochána, and is modelled to a large extent on similar oversight mechanisms internationally.
I look forward to working with all colleagues in the House to enact this important legislation this year, with a view to having it commenced in January 2024.”

When enacted, the Bill will repeal the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (as amended) in its entirety.

Implementation of the Bill is progressing in parallel with its legislative journey. The Department is already engaged in planning and coordinating this vital work, in conjunction with our Agency partners, so that the provisions and the new bodies can be put in place promptly on the Bill’s commencement.


Contractor Fined €1,000 For Harvesting Turf In Protected Bog On Tipperary Border.

Machined Turf Cutting

A case before Nenagh District Court, Co Tipperary on February 9th 2023 last, heard that turf was being extracted from a Natural Heritage Area containing a raised bog, without ministerial consent, contrary to Section 19 of the Wildlife Amendment Act 2000. The bog, situated at Monaincha & Ballaghmore, 6 km east of Roscrea, North Tipperary, spans the border of counties Tipperary and Laois.

The site is regarded as being of considerable conservation significance, and a rare habitat within the European Union. Same sites are becoming increasingly scarce and under threat here in Ireland.

The accused, named as Mr Pat McEvoy, aged 51, with an address at Blackbull, Birr, Co Offaly, had pleaded guilty to the offence and Judge Elizabeth McGrath imposed a fine of €1,000.

Evidence was provided before to the court by a National Parks and Wildlife Service Divisional Manager, latter who confirmed that the site had been designated as a Natural Heritage Area back in 2005, due to its unique raised bog microhabitat and large soak system.

He further confirmed that turf could only be harvested in the Natural Heritage Area with Ministerial consent and no such consent had been issued or requested.

On May 11th, 2020, as part of a surveillance operation in the afore mentioned area; together with a Wildlife Service colleague, the Divisional Manager had entered the bog at 7:30am and witnessed the extraction and spreading of peat on the protected site. When the machines began to leave the site, the accused involved, was approached. Mr McEvoy refused initially to identify himself, but subsequently did so, to a member of An Garda Síochána, who arrived shortly afterwards

Ignorantia juris non excusat. – Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Judge Elizabeth McGrath, imposing a €1,000 fine, stated that she did not accept the defence that Mr McEvoy was unaware that the site was protected, adding that as a turf contractor involved in the turf trade for some years, it was his business to know the whereabouts of legally protected raised bog sites.