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Reasonable force against intruders allowed

Some fear the new law will give homeowners a licence to kill.

The use of reasonable force against intruders now allowed.

THE USE OF REASONABLE force against intruders will be permitted under a new bill introduced by the government.

The Criminal Law Defence and the Dwelling Bill 2010 will allow homeowners to defend themselves or their property in the case of an intruder entering their home.

A homeowner – or a visitor – is now permitted to stand their ground if attacked in their home.  Notably, the bill specifically states there is no requirement for a person to retreat when faced with an intruder.

The justifiable use of force may even lead to the death of an intruder. The bill states: “The use of force shall not exclude the use of force causing death.”

Under the new bill, the use of lethal force is lawful if an intruder hurts a homeowner – but also the property itself. This clause has been criticised by those who believe it will give homeowners a ‘licence to kill.’

Mr Mark Kelly, Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), has said the bill was “placing the right to defence of property above the right to life.”

Six years ago, the debate about self-defence and reasonable force surfaced very publicly in Ireland with the death of John Ward in County Mayo.

Ward died after being beaten with a stick and shot twice after trespassing on Padraig Nally’s property. Nally was charged with manslaughter.

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