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justice report Laws targeting gangs using children to commit crime brought forward under new plan by Justice Minister

Justice Minister Helen McEntee published the Justice Plan 2021 today, which outlined her intention to divert young people away from crime and antisocial behaviour.

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Minister for Justice Helen McEntee. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

New laws are being brought forward to crackdown on gangs grooming children to commit crimes, according to the Justice Minister's plan for 2021.

Helen McEntee published the report today, which outlined her intention to divert young people away from crime and antisocial behaviour.

Part of that plan would involve a new law specifically targeting adults who use children to participate in criminal activity.

“Stronger legislation and additional resources will also support An Garda Síochána in tackling the organised crime gangs dealing in misery,” the report said.

“The justice system will not back down in its determination to take on the gangs, nor will it let them take hold of our young.”

Gardaí currently need special permission from the DPP to charge a child aged 14 or under for a crime. Most cases involving a teenager under 16 are dealt with by youth diversion programmes rather than the courts.

This new legislation would allow for those who groomed the children to be charged for their crimes and see sentences of up to five years imprisonment.

This is not the only way the government intends on disrupting the recruitment of children into criminal gangs.

They will continue to roll out the Greentown project pilots, which will evaluate progress to ensure youth justice interventions are making the “greatest impact” in the communities concerned.

The Minister also aims to publish a new Sexual Offences Bill to strengthen protections for victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

“Our reforms in this plan mean victims of sexual, domestic and gender-based abuse will be supported by the criminal justice system, and their abusers punished,” Ms McEntee said.

“They, like all victims of crime, will know that our system is there to serve them when they are at their most vulnerable.”

“I firmly believe that future generations will look back on the scourge of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and ask why it was tolerated as a lesser form of crime or abuse for so long. That period is over.”

Part of the minister’s plan involves launching a public awareness campaign for the higher education sector around the meaning of consent. She also wishes to develop an awareness campaign on consent for broader society.

Ms McEntee also wants to try and better tackle terrorism, both in Ireland and abroad, a process she says will involve the help of other European nations.

“The fight against organised crime stretches beyond our borders and An Garda Síochána work closely with their international colleagues to break the networks of serious criminals and prevent them from inflicting misery in our communities,” the report said.

In order to that, the minister intends on supporting an “effective” system of extradition “in accordance with legislation”. She also wishes to support the European Arrest Warrant.

There’s also to be a review on existing Garda powers in relation to dangerous weapons, including knives, to ensure Gardaí have the necessary legal tools to protect local communities.


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