Wednesday, March 08, 2006


McDowell rejects tougher sentences

McDowell, you have messed upIf Michael McDowell was to show the same vigour in tackling Irish criminals as he has shown in tackling the Provisional IRA, this country would be a semi-utopian society.

Alas, crime seems more problematic than ever and Mr McDowell seems unwilling to do what is required to bring it under control.

Today he ruled out the prospect of tougher sentencing in the wake of the murder of Donna Carey in Dublin at the weekend, despite calls from the Taoiseach.

Yesterday, Bertie Ahern told the Dáil that he would like to see tougher sentencing to ensure a person sent to prison for life is never released back into society.

However, speaking in Dublin today, Mr McDowell said it would be wrong to tear up current policy in response to one single incident:

"There are some people who are in prison at the moment who I don't propose to release in any foreseeable circumstance but there are other people for whom the prospect of rehabilitation is a good thing.

"You don't change your entire penal policy based on one incident, no matter how awful or grotesque or harrowing that incident may be."

It's hardly one incident though, is it? Why can't 'life in jail' mean life in jail? Let's put paid to this nonsense where murderers are released after a decade, give or take.

The primary purpose of imprisonment should be to punish the offenders for their wrongs in society. Capital punishment is not seen as a deterrent in this country but neither are the paltry sentences dished out to those who maim and kill.

On a related note, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny launched a blistering attack on the Justice Minister's performance in the wake of Ms Cleary's death. He said the rate of serious crime had increased under Mr McDowell's watch, while crime detection rates had also deteriorated over the same period.

"If he survives until next year, he will be the Minister for Justice who will have presided over 500,000 headline crimes," Mr Kenny said.

Well said, Mr Kenny. McDowell needs to do the right thing here. He needs to send a strong message out to Ireland's criminal elements that if they cross society, society will not go easy on them.

"It is in justice that the ordering of society is centered." - Aristotle


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