“Harsher" sentences are on the way for those who attack frontline workers, interim Justice Minister Simon Harris has said.
The measure is one of 140 recommendations from the Department of Justice and Minister Harris said it comes following consultation with representative bodies.
“We believe there are certain offenses in the country where I think there’s such a level of societal revulsion that we need to actually change the laws to have harsher sentences,” he told The Hard Shoulder.
“What I’m thinking about particularly is assaults on frontline workers - including the Gardaí, paramedics, people working in our hospitals, our nurses and doctors.
“We’re proposing that between now and the summer recess, we amend the law to increase the maximum sentence for assault on a frontline worker to move that assault from a seven year sentence… to 12 years.”
Minister Harris stressed he believes in rehabilitation and alternatives to prison where possible. However, he also said tougher sentences will send a message that “we do value our frontline workers”.
He added the Department is looking at the use of ASBOs to crack down on antisocial behaviour - which he described as “effective” in some parts of the country but rarely used in some counties.
Furthermore, he said it was high time Gardaí are given body cameras to wear as part of their uniform.
“Giving the Garda body cams is really, really important,” he said.
“I find it beyond ironic that often the only person who turns up at a public order incident without a camera is the Guard.
“I think one way you can reduce attacks on Gardaí is to make sure that if somebody does decide they’re going to loiter at a Guard or throw something at a Guard, knowing that that evidence will be captured on a body cam, I think, is an important deterrent and we’re currently bring that legislation through the Dáil as well.”
Minister Harris said he expects the “bulk” of Gardaí will be given body cameras in 2024.
Main image: Justice Minister Simon Harris and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris at the passing out ceremony in Templemore.