October 26 - DNA database a critical tool in fighting crime, says Collins

An effective DNA database forms a critical facet of the modern toolkit for police forces in tackling serious crime head-on, Fianna Fail’s Justice Spokesman Niall Collins told the Dáil.

An effective DNA database forms a critical facet of the modern toolkit for police forces in tackling serious crime head-on, Fianna Fail’s Justice Spokesman Niall Collins told the Dáil.

Speaking on a new Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System Bills, he said the effective use of a DNA database also strengthens the justice system from the other side. The proper use of DNA evidence will help to identify culprits but will assist in confirming the innocence of suspects as well. DNA evidence will help to exonerate those accused or convicted in the wrong.

“There are several issues which the Minister should seek to address in the legislation,” he said. “First and foremost is the issue of resources. Second, the remit of the Bill and the potential role for the military police. Third, the human rights safeguards in the Bill, in particular in respect of international information exchange. Overall, however, Fianna Fáil welcomes the Bill as a measure to arm the Garda with a framework to use DNA that will help the fight against serious crime.”

Laws mean little if there are not resources to back them up, he said. Fundamentally, laws are barely worth the paper they are written on if we do not have the Garda adequately resourced to back them up.

“A rump demoralised force will not uphold the law of the land regardless of what databases are available to it,” he said. “The Minister has stated he has adequately prepared the forensic science laboratory for the creation of the DNA database. He has indicated the laboratory has been allocated substantial resources and IT capability to deal adequately with the new database. It is vital that the laboratory is provided with ongoing support and assistance as the level and scope of the work develops and expands with the new database.”

Not all mortgages sustainable - Noonan

It must be accepted regretfully that not all mortgages, due to the individual circumstances, can be made sustainable, Finance Minister Michael Noonan told the Dáil.

Speaking during Question Time, he said there will sometimes be circumstances where the person will have to lose ownership of the home. Indeed, in such cases this may be in the best interests of all parties.

“The Central Bank does not expect that repossession will be the lender’s preferred solution to mortgage difficulties and in most cases engagement by the borrower will make the legal course unnecessary,” he said. “However, in circumstances where the borrower does not engage with a lender to address a mortgage difficulty and, subject to fully complying with the code of conduct on mortgage arrears, then there may be no other option for the lender but to commence legal proceedings.”

The Keane report clearly stated that without an effective insolvency system the mortgage arrears problem will not be solved, he said. The Insolvency Service of Ireland began accepting applications on 9 September 2013 and while work has commenced on the initial cases, it is too early to make any specific determination on the numbers of individuals that may avail of the different options.

Consumer confidence a real concern - O’Sullivan

The retail sector, combined with the wholesale sector, plays a very important part in the domestic economy, representing over 15% of the workforce, Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan told the Upper house. However, over 48,000 jobs were lost in the retail and wholesale sectors in the period from the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2012 and while the volume of retail sales has shown some marginal increases in recent quarters, consumer confidence remains low.

Speaking during a debate on small businesses, she said there is no one simple solution or panacea to the situation faced. An integrated cross-sectoral approach is required, but this must also be combined with proactive action by the retail sector and individual businesses within it.

“The vitality and viability of town centres are central to our policy in government,” she said. “We recognise the vital role towns play in the social, cultural and economic life of communities around Ireland. We have all seen the effects of urban sprawl and poorly planned out-of-town retail developments. Families all over Ireland are paying for these mistakes through more expensive infrastructure, longer journeys and congestion. Vibrant town centres also contribute to social inclusion and are better suited to multipurpose trips. They provide for greater diversity of uses and create more interesting spaces where people can interact and do business.”