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Neale Richmond is right about increasing assault sentencing

One of the most common critiques of the government and governing parties is, quite simply, that they are woefully out-of-touch with ordinary people and their day-to-day concerns.

You’re worried about the soaring cost of petrol and home heating? Well, your local TD is probably more concerned about carbon emissions and what impact cow farts will have on the crop yield in Timbuktu.

You’re worried about violent crime and your neighbourhood turning into a scene from Mad Max: Thunderdome? Not your local TD: he or she is probably more focused on getting Gardaí to investigate allegedly offensive or “transphobic” tweets.

You’re a young aspiring homeowner wondering if you’ll ever be able to own your own house? Well, your local TD likely has other plans: they’re probably far more concerned about housing every alleged asylum seeker from here to Antarctica.

And so, in the face of these realities, a lot of regular people quite reasonably conclude that the government’s priorities are far removed from their own. Which generally seems true. Most people don’t know what a “non-binary” is – let alone worry that there isn’t an option for it on the Census.

Most people, as it happens, have bigger fish to fry at the moment.

But every now and again, government politicians still make the odd useful contribution, as Neale Richmond did this week.

As reported by DublinLive:

“Thugs who assault cops, firefighters and nurses should be locked up, a TD said yesterday.

Neale Richmond is to call on the Dail to agree on mandatory jail terms after a shocking rise in attacks on emergency services personnel.

The Fine Gael representative for Dublin Rathdown said: “Over the past few years there has been a worrying increase in assaults on frontline workers across Ireland.”

Richmond went on to say that “an example must be made of those who commit these crimes.”

“This is why I will introduce a Private Members Motion to Dail Eireann calling on a mandatory minimum sentence for those convicted of assault against a frontline worker of six months for a lesser, or summary offence, and two years for an indictment, or more serious offence.”

Now, if you wanted to be critical here, you could say that such stronger sentencing should not just apply to Gardaí and firemen. It should apply to all assaults and violent offences, across the board – you could reasonably argue that Richmond’s proposal doesn’t go far enough.

But ultimately, that’s neither here nor there – the point is, this is a good policy proposal, and an obvious move in the right direction. Richmond has correctly identified that the issue with violent crime is weak sentencing, and for that he deserves credit.

In a country where criminals are routinely released 10, 20, and 30 times for serious offences, given fully suspended sentences for heinous crimes, and ordered to “self-deport” with no exit checks, it is quite clear that weak sentencing is the root cause of surging crime rates.

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Criminals don’t give a bollocks about the law in Ireland. And why should they? The law is a joke in this country. Even the courts and the authorities don’t take it seriously, as evidenced by the lack of consequences for breaking it. We can hardly blame gougers and thugs for treating the rules with the same contempt that judges and politicians do.

And generally, when prominent people in Ireland talk about fixing law and order, their proposals are “airy-fairy” (to use a now-controversial phrase) and pure waffle, such as Professor Sam McConkey saying men should need a licence to socialise in public.

Richmond’s proposal, by contrast, is perfectly reasonable, proportional and concrete. The most surprising thing about it, in fact, is that it’s taken this long for a government politician to suggest it.
I’m not saying a policy like this alone would be enough to save the government’s image per se. But more common-sense, practical ideas like this certainly wouldn’t hurt.

At the very least, if we see more policies along these lines from the government, they’ll be getting a lot less grief from this writer, I can tell you.

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