11 June 2014

Minister Fitzgerald welcomes legislation to establish new DNA Database

·        Landmark DNA database bill passed by Seanad
·        President Higgins to sign bill into law shortly
·        Key Programme for Government Commitment fulfilled

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, today welcomed the passing by the Oireachtas of legislation to establish a new DNA Database System.

The Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Bill 2013 was passed by the Seanad today, having been passed by the Dáil on 1 May.  It is due to be signed into law by the President shortly.

The key innovation in the Bill is the establishment of a DNA database to assist the Garda Síochána in tackling crime. The enactment of this legislation fulfils a key Programme for Government commitment.

The database, when established, will have the capacity to link crimes and to identify suspects in relation to unsolved crimes, while enabling the Gardaí to better target their investigations and make better use of resources.

Such database technology in the forensics field has the added benefit of facilitating the searching, subject to strict conditions, of other national DNA databases.

Speaking after the Bill was passed by the Seanad, Minister Fitzgerald said: “Today is a momentous day as Ireland joins the ranks of countries that exploit to the maximum the potential of DNA to assist with the investigation and prosecution of crime.” 

The Minister went on to state: “This is a comprehensive piece of legislation that has evolved and developed after much consideration and consultation.  Human rights considerations were very much to the fore throughout this process.  I was acutely aware of the need to strike an appropriate balance between the use of the DNA database in the investigation of crime in the public interest and of the individual’s constitutional right to fair process, privacy and their good name.  I am confident that this Bill, with its many safeguards, particularly in relation to children and protected persons, achieves that balance.”

The database will be established and operated by the Forensic Science Laboratory (to be renamed Forensic Science Ireland under the Bill) of the Department of Justice and Equality.