Dáil Éireann - Volume 481 - 21 October, 1997

Written Answers. - Crime Prevention.

102. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the proposals, if any, he has for exemplary penalties for persons who habitually prey on tourists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16995/97]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): The determination of the sentence to be imposed on any person following [1401] conviction for an offence is a matter for the courts, taking into account all the circumstances of the case. The Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997 contains a number of provisions intended to protect the public against various types of assaults. The Act sets out a range of offences and penalties. An offence of assault, which would cover most minor assaults, carries a penalty on summary conviction of a fine not exceeding £1,500 or imprisonment for up to six months or both. The more serious offences carry greater penalties. An offence of assault causing harm, which replaces the old offence of assault causing actual bodily harm, carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment. Where the offence is one of assault causing serious harm, which replaces the old offences of wounding or causing or inflicting grievous bodily harm, the penalty for conviction on indictment is imprisonment for up to life. Conviction for an offence which consists of threats to kill or cause serious harm carry a penalty of up to ten years imprisonment.

I am satisfied that this range of penalties is approriate for dealing with all offences of this kind, irrespective of the origin of the victim, and I am not satisfied that it is appropriate or necessary to single out tourist offences for different treatment.