Minister McEntee welcomes passage through the Dáil of Bill to allow for pre-trial hearings
- Bill to legislate for Preliminary Trial Hearings, providing a faster and more efficient court process for the prosecution of sexual offences, white collar crimes and organised crime
- Bill also allows for the provision of certain information to Juries to assist them with their deliberations
11 March 2021
Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, today welcomed the passage of the Criminal Procedure Bill through all stages of the legislative processes in the Dáil. Minister McEntee expressed her appreciation to the members of the House for their cooperative engagement on this important piece of legislation which, when enacted, will provide for the use of Preliminary Trial Hearings.
Minister McEntee said,
“The introduction of Preliminary Trial Hearings will allow the Courts address certain matters before the start of a trial and will minimise the number of interruptions while the trial is ongoing. This will improve the efficiency of the trial process when it begins and also reduce negative impacts that delays and interruptions have on victims, witnesses, defendants and jury members.”
If a trial does not proceed as planned, or is subject to multiple interruptions, this can impact negatively on all those involved. The introduction of Preliminary Trail Hearings will reduce a number of those negative impacts, by:
- reducing the impact on the victim who will have prepared themselves mentally, only for the trial not to start on the designated day, or to be interrupted, potentially multiple times, dragging out the experience and making it more difficult and stressful;
- making it less likely that the jury will be sent away immediately after being sworn in, or sent away multiple times during the trial; and
- delivering significant resource efficiencies where trials are ready on the day they are due to start, and more likely to proceed smoothly to a conclusion.
Addressing how Preliminary Trial Hearings will benefit victims, Minister McEntee said,
“The introduction of preliminary Trial Hearings will create a more victim centred approach where notice will be given of any sensitive legal approaches that may be taken at trial.
“While we can’t take away the fact that a trial is an adversarial process, that an accused person is entitled to defend themselves robustly and that events can unfold in unexpected ways, the introduction of preliminary trial hearings should make trials more predictable, more efficient, and proceed with less interruptions.
“I look forward to now presenting the Bill to the Seanad and to positively engaging with my colleagues there with a view to progressing it as swiftly as possible.”