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Maximum sentence for assaults on gardaí to rise

24 May 2023 / justice Print

Maximum sentence for assaults on gardaí to rise

The Government has agreed to a proposal to amend laws to increase sentences for assaults causing harm to members of an Garda Síochána (AGS) and other emergency workers.

The amendments will change the maximum sentence for assaulting or obstructing a police officer from seven to 12 years.

The changes will be brought forward by way of Committee Stage amendments to the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2022.

The increase in maximum sentence will apply where the assault causing harm in question is against an on-duty garda or emergency-service worker, such as hospital staff, prison officers, members of the fire brigade, ambulance personnel or members of the Defence Forces.

Minister for Justice Simon Harris, who brought forward the proposal, described assaults on gardaí or other emergency workers in the course of their duties as “inexcusable”.

‘Ripple effect’

He said that assaults on emergency workers could have serious impacts on the direct victim, who is sometimes left with life and career-changing injuries.

“But we also need to be cognisant of the ripple effect these assaults can have on public safety if, as a result of injury to an emergency worker or damage to a vehicle, the emergency service available to members of the public is negatively affected,” the minister added.

"This legislation applies to any assault – any unlawful use of force, or threat of force, direct or indirect – against a garda or emergency worker; that might be a punch, it may involve the use of a weapon, or it might be ramming their vehicle,” Minister Harris stated.

The bill being amended has now passed all stages in Dáil Eireann. Second stage in Seanad Éireann was scheduled for yesterday (23 May).

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