Minimum sentences for certain crimes 'would send a very clear signal' to others, according to Justice Minister Helen McEntee.
Proposals to reform life sentencing are contained in the 2022 Justice Plan - which also includes a zero-tolerance for gender-based violence and regularising undocumented migrants.
Minister McEntee told The Pat Kenny Show this would give more leeway to judges on sentencing.
"What I'm essentially setting out is an exploration of this idea.
"It's something that I've been considering for some time, and actually when I came back from maternity leave last November I asked my department to do a body of work on this.
"I now have that work - I need to engage further with the AG [Attorney-General] and with my colleagues."
She says this would not interfere with the work of the Parole Board.
"At the moment, if a person is handed down a mandatory life sentence for murder - or if they're handed down a life sentence for another type of crime - they can engage with the Parole Board after 12 years.
"But this would give the judge the discretion to say because of a particular case, because of the facts of the case, because it may be a particularly heinous crime... that this person should serve a minimum of 20, 25 or 30 years before they can engage with the Parole Board.
"It's not to over-step the work of the Parole Board but it is to acknowledge that in some cases people should serve - and we're setting out clearly - that people would serve a longer sentence".
'Discretion of the judiciary'
Minister McEntee says any such approach would be up to the judge in question.
"I'm very conscious in my role as Minister for Justice, the separation of powers, is not to direct in this regard.
"But it would leave it at the discretion of the judiciary - where at the moment they don't have any discretion.
"You hand down a life sentence, and that person can engage with the Parole Board".
She says this would set out longer sentences for particular types of crimes.
"People are not generally released after 12 years, there's a lengthy process with the Parole Board.
"People may spend 20, 30 - and we have a small number of people serving life sentence who are in prison for over 40 years.
"But this would send a very clear signal [for] particular types of crimes, you will serve longer in prison".
She adds that such powers could be used in certain 'horrendous' instances.
"We're talking about specifically the most horrendous types of crimes.
"While I would not - and the Dáil would not - be setting out examples or setting out specifically where this would apply, for me I think of this where you may have children involved, where you may have a religious or that type of emotive where there might be a sadistic or sexual nature to the crime".