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Doubling sentences for knife crime to 10 years 'will send a clear message', says Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil supports the re-introduction of a ‘Bin the Blade’ amnesty.

Junior Minister Kevin Boxer Moran has called for a knife amnesty to be rolled out.
Junior Minister Kevin Boxer Moran has called for a knife amnesty to be rolled out.
Image: Shutterstock/SpeedKingz

SENTENCES FOR KNIFE crime should be doubled to 10 years, according to Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Justice Jim O’Callaghan.

‘Growing knife crime culture in Ireland must be addressed before more lives are lost,’ he told reporters today. 

He plans to introduce his Firearms and Offensive Weapons (Amendment) Bill to the Dáil, and said it is his understanding that the government will not oppose it.

Currently, people can get a maximum sentence of five years and/or a fine for carrying a knife intended to incapacitate or injure another person.

O’Callaghan said this should be doubled, with the maximum sentence increased to 10 years, though he acknowledged that sentencing discretion is a matter for the courts.

“This summer four people were killed in Dublin in knife attacks. Unfortunately, this reveals that people are carrying knives for the purpose of inflicting harm on others. At present the maximum penalty for being found in possession of a knife with intent to harm another is five years. 

“The maximum sentence needs to be increased so that there is a real deterrent to cut down on the growing knife culture in Ireland. It is important that people are aware that carrying knives for no lawful purpose is not permitted and will be severely punished,” he said. 

He told reporters at Leinster House today that increasing the maximum sentence would “send a very clear message” that knife crime will not be tolerated. 

Carrying weapons 

O’Callaghan said it was “unacceptable” that young people felt it necessary to carry around knives with them. Acknowledging that knife crime won’t just be solved with legislation, he is yet to speak to the Department of Education about ensuring that knife crime and its dangers be dealt with on the curriculum. 

“This isn’t the only method of resolving the issue with knife crime in our society,” he said, adding that it is a “first step”.

He said the situation with knife crime in London “is very serious”.

“We’re going to ensure that that doesn’t happen in this country,” he added, stating that is why Fianna Fáil’s legislation should be allowed proceed. He appealed to all parties to support the Bill.

“The number of knives seized by An Garda Síochána nationwide has increased by 66% in two years. There is growing anecdotal evidence too to show that knives are being used in a greater number of crimes,” he added.

Knife amnesty 

The introduction of the Bill comes as Minister for State Kevin Boxer Moran calls for a knife amnesty. 

He claims there is a growing trend of young people carrying knives “for protection”.

A similar amnesty was set up 13 years ago to coincide with the introduction of tough penalties for possession of weapons, he said today. 

When asked if Fianna Fáil would back such a move, O’Callaghan said that when his party was in government in the 1990s, a ‘Bin the Blade’ amnesty was rolled out. 

He said the amnesty was very successful at the time, but added:

“If you’re going to introduce an amnesty, you have to have corresponding legislation… And if you’re going to have an amnesty, it’s very important that there’s a more significant deterrent afterwards for people that don’t comply with the amnesty.”

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