On Tuesday 10th of May the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) will run an event entitled “Breaking the Record: Spent Convictions & Discrimination” in Pearse Street Library from 5 – 6:30 pm. Bobby Cummines the Chief Executive of UNLOCK – the National Association of Reformed Offenders in the United Kingdom will give a presentation and a panel will respond from an Irish perspective. The Irish Penal Reform Trust are particularly interested in hearing from people who have experienced barriers as a result of having a criminal conviction and encourages people to attend and share their experiences.
According to IPRT Ireland is the only country in the EU, and one of a small number of member states of the Council of Europe that does not have legislation providing for the expungement of criminal records (for certain minor offences after remaining conviction-free for a specified period of time). The Law Reform Commission published a Report on Spent Convictions in 2007 that made recommendations for the introduction of a statutory spent convictions scheme. That work recognised that a criminal record can be a significant barrier to many areas of life including employment and education and has implications in many other arenas such as insurance, travel and banking. The Spent Convictions Group (Human Rights Committee of the Law Society, in conjunction with Ballymun Community Law Centre, Ballymun Local Drugs Task Force, Business in the Community, Northside Community Law Centre and Northside Partnership) also published a Report in 2009 entitled “Disclosure of Criminal Convictions: Proposals for a Rehabilitation of Offenders Scheme”.
This body of work in conjunction with campaigning from the IPRT culminated in the Spent Convictions Bill, which was introduced into the Dáil in 2007. Although the Bill meet with mainly positive cross-party support little legislative progress has been achieved. The new Government has given a commitment to publishing a Bill on this area before July 2011, which has been welcomed by IPRT. This forum is timely and provides an excellent opportunity for interested persons and organisations to engage in the law reform process. The event is free to attend, however, there is limited availability as such early registration is advised. See here.