Minister McEntee Publishes Justice Plan 2022

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee T.D. published Justice Plan 2022 outlining 159 actions to continue building a justice system that works for everyone.

Justice Plan 2022 is the second in a series of annual plans introduced by the Minister and builds on the work outlined in Justice Plan 2021. The annual Justice Plans deliver on the ambition set out in the Department of Justice’s Statement of Strategy 2021-2023, A safe, fair and inclusive Ireland.

As a result of the work delivered under Justice Plan 2021, the following reforms have been completed or will be progressed this year;

  • The opening of the regularisation scheme for thousands of undocumented migrants, with applications now being processed
  • The improvement of the trial process for sexual offences, white collar crimes, organised crime and other complex offences with the full introduction of pre-trial hearings
  • Tackling domestic, sexual and gender based violence though the full implementation of Supporting a Victim’s Journey, the plan to help victims and vulnerable witnesses in sexual violence cases
  • Working across government on a new Zero Tolerance national strategy on domestic, sexual and gender based violence
  • Strengthening and supporting An Garda Síochána through new recruitment and improved laws to continue its transformation into a world class policing service
  • Reform of our antiquated licensing laws, with a general scheme to be published within weeks
  • Reform and regulation of gambling, with work ongoing on landmark legislation to introduce a Gambling Regulator

Among the 159 actions in Justice Plan 2022, Minister McEntee and Minister of State James Browne will:

  • Bring forward proposals to reform the law in relation to life sentences
  • Continue to tackle the cost of insurance by bringing forward new legislation on the duty of care as part of the Civil Law Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, due to be published in the coming weeks. This will build on the real progress made in reducing the award levels of personal injuries awards through the personal injuries guidelines
  • Publish research on tackling legal costs
  • Prioritise the introduction of new specific criminal offences of stalking and non-fatal strangulation
  • Introduce the most significant reforms to appointing judges in 25 years through the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill
  • Enact legislation to provide for the use of body worn cameras by An Garda Síochána to help with the investigation of crime, protect frontline Gardaí and support accountability
  • Scope a possible Irish bid to host any proposed European Centre for the prevention and countering of child sexual abuse
  • Develop and publish a rural safety plan with the National Rural Safety Forum
  • Enact technical legislation to enable the full roll-out of the Garda operating model which will enhance the structure, processes and governance of An Garda Síochána, shifting a greater emphasis to local policing
  • Break the link between gangs and the children they exploit, with new laws to criminalise grooming of children, increasing the sentence for conspiracy to murder, and the continued roll-out of community intervention programmes to help those most at risk

During 2022, a coordinated whole-of-Government response to the forcible displacement of millions of people from Ukraine will also be prioritised.

The Ukrainian people want to be as close to their homes as the war will allow. For this reason, the EU has, for the first time in its history, activated the Temporary Protection Directive. The Department of Justice will ensure that temporary protection permission is provided to everyone who is eligible to receive it on their arrival in Ireland. Over 8,000 permissions have been provided so far. Minister McEntee and her Government colleagues will continue to work with their EU counterparts on any further EU-wide measures that might be needed to assist those fleeing Ukraine.

Launching Justice Plan 2022, Minister McEntee said, “Justice Plan 2022 will help us continue to prioritise and deliver the work that will make a real difference for people in Ireland both in the short and the long term. Action by action, reform by reform, we can make a real difference to the people who rely on us. This action plans sets out 159 actions to be delivered in 2022 as well as the priority of managing the consequences arising in the Justice sphere from the invasion of Ukraine.”

“As part of this plan I will lead work across Government to achieve zero tolerance of domestic, sexual and gender based violence and abuse. Victims will also be better supported through the implementation of ‘Supporting a Victim’s Journey’, the plan which puts victims at the heart of the criminal justice system. We will continue to support An Garda Síochána in its centenary year in protecting our communities from crime through increased resourcing, investment in diversity, training and technology.”

“Work will also progress to reform the courts system and increase efficiency while creating a family courts system that is less adversarial and more sensitive to the needs of families. Tackling the cost of insurance will also be a focus. And I also believe in a criminal justice system where the sentence matches the crime and I will bring forward proposals to reform the law in relation to life sentences.”

Minister of State for Law Reform, James Browne, TD, added, “I am absolutely committed to progressing legislation regarding the regulation of gambling which will establish a public safety and well-being focussed Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland. I will also lead on further progress on the implementation of the Youth Justice Strategy and on-going work to combat anti-social behaviour and criminal activity impacting our communities.”

“The comprehensive aims and actions contained in this year’s Justice Plan will play a central role in fostering a safe, fair and inclusive Ireland. I am looking forward to advancing our work for the benefit of all in Irish society. The breadth and depth of the ambitions set out in the Justice Plan reflect the importance of Justice matters for citizens and the Plan highlights the significance of the Justice sector for people’s lives and welfare.”

“I recognise that in order to achieve the positive changes envisaged by the Justice Plan, the Department and its agencies must work in tandem with stakeholders and society in general. The multi-faceted nature of the Justice Plan’s objectives means that this collaboration will be essential and worthwhile.”

The series of Justice Plans, and a wider three year Statement of Strategy for the Department of Justice, are built on five key goals.

For the first time, Justice Plan 2022 details a number of key performance indicators under each goal which will be used to measure success.

These goals, and some of detailed actions which will be taken under them, are:

1. Tackle crime, enhance national security and transform policing

  • Prepare a national strategy to tackle economic crime and corruption
  • Coordinate the Government’s response to upcoming EU legislative proposal on tackling child sexual abuse, including beginning preparations for a possible Irish bid to host any proposed European Centre for the prevention and countering of child sexual abuse
  • Continue to support the implementation of the National Cyber Security Strategy, including though attendance the enactment of the Cybercrime Bill
  • Develop a new National Action Plan to combat Human Trafficking
  • Publish Hate Crime Bill to reform and modernise the law through the introduction of new, specific hate aggravated offences for crimes motivated by prejudice against protected characteristics, with tougher sentences than ordinary forms of crime
  • Develop and publish a rural safety plan with the National Rural Safety Forum
  • Progressing the landmark Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill
  • Review the system of Garda vetting to strengthen the protections for vulnerable adults and children
  • Put in place a revised National Referral Mechanism to identify and support victims of trafficking and develop a new action plan
  • Finalise a scheme to disregard the convictions of people convicted of consensual same-sex activity prior to decriminalisation
  • Publish new legislation on the Proceeds of Crime

2. Improve access to justice and modernise the courts system

  • Develop and publish a Family Justice Strategy and Action Plan to provide for a user friendly and accessible family court system
  • Publish the Family Court Bill which will create a new dedicated Family Court within the existing court structures
  • Enact new the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, which will reform and modernise the way in which judges are appointed
  • Publish the report of the Judicial Planning Working Group to review the numbers and types of judges needed to ensure the efficient administration of justice over the next five years
  • Continue work to establish the Gambling Regulatory Authority by early 2023
  • Publish and enact new laws to update and modernise licensing law through the Sale of Alcohol Bill
  • Publish an amendment to the Occupiers’ Liability Act in regard to the actions required of an occupier to meet the common duty of care
  • Open up and reform professional legal education, introduce independent oversight for the first time, and remove barriers to becoming a solicitor or barrister

3. Strengthen community safety, reduce reoffending, support victims and combat domestic, sexual and gender based violence

  • Enact the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill to strengthen the monitoring arrangements for convicted sex offenders
  • Launch and begin implementation of third National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence
  • This includes working towards the establishment of a statutory Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence agency under the aegis of the Department of Justice to ensure the coherent delivery of services and effective implementation of the Third National Strategy
  • Launch the Community Safety Innovation Fund to invest seized proceeds of crime in community safety projects
  • Publish new legislation to deal with adults who groom children into criminal activity
  • Continue to implement the Drogheda Implementation Plan
  • Publish a Penal Policy Action Plan and the report of the Mental Health Taskforce to reduce re-offending, and work to increase education, employment and mental health supports available

4. Deliver a fair immigration system for a digital age

  • Implement the regularisation scheme for long term undocumented migrants
  • Advance the delivery of the recommendations of the Catherine Day Advisory Group assigned to the Department of Justice
  • The Department of Justice will continue to play a lead role in Ireland’s response to the consequences of the devastating and appalling Russian invasion of Ukraine
  • Grant permissions under the Afghan admission programme; drive Digitalisation and moving online; reduce time from 5 to 3 years for children not born here to regularise

5. Accelerate innovation, digital transformation and climate action across the justice sector

  • Publish a Justice Climate Policy Statement setting out how the justice sector will reach its climate and energy efficiency targets, including by the adoption of green public procurement
  • Develop and publish an Innovation Strategy for the Justice sector
  • Publish Department of Justice Equality, Diversity and Initiative

Justice Plan is by its nature, mostly policy, legislation and innovation focused, to deliver on the Departments strategic goals for the next few years. The Justice Plan’s actions will be delivered in addition to the varied, substantial and valued day to day work of the Department which delivers vital services for members of the public and agencies in the justice sector.

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