‘End parole for murderers – give dignity back to victims’ families’ – Kilkenny TD
By COLIN BARTLEY
A KILKENNY TD has called on Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan to hand decisions over the parole of murderers to an independent board, giving dignity back to the families of murder victims.
Sinn Féin Deputy Kathleen Funchion said demands from the SAVE (Sentencing and Victim Equality) group to the government should be “supported without question”.
The group is calling on the Government to bring about changes that would mean people who have murdered family members are not eligible for parole until their minimum sentence has been served.
SAVE held a demonstration outside Leinster House this week to support the families of murder and manslaughter victims.
The group was founded by Kilkenny man John Whelan, whose sister Sharon Whelan (30) and her two young daughters, Zarah and Nadia (pictured above, beside image of their killer outside court), were murdered in their home Windgap on Christmas Day in 2008.
The family of Kilkenny woman Christine Quinn who died following a prolonged and savage knife attack in her own home in December 2002. Her sons Jason and Ronan are campaigning for change as part of the SAVE group.
Talking with KilkennyNow.ie Sinn Fein TD said: “These families should be granted an appropriate level of financial assistance to confidently tackle the legal process and turmoil they are faced with.
“SAVE is calling for the introduction of minimum sentences for all categories of homicide.
– no parole until the full minimum sentence has been served.
– the end of concurrent sentencing and the end of reward day releases.
– and the establishment of a state-funded agency to assist and support the families of victims of all violent crimes.
“The Irish Penal Reform Trust has recently stated that for there to be any meaningful reform of our system, all parole decisions must be coherent, transparent, fair and removed from political control.
“Currently, parole decisions are signed off by the Justice Minister of the day, who is presented with case-by-case recommendations by the parole board. This process is not fit for purpose.
“I have worked closely with Kathleen Chada from SAVE for some time now and I am continuously amazed and humbled at her courage, strength, and perseverance in fighting for justice.
“People like Ms. Chada, Mr Whelan, and Christine Quinn’s family, who have been through the most horrific of events, deserve proper support from the government when it comes to the sentencing of the murderers of their loved ones.
“The Minister for Justice Charlie Flannigan must listen to what both SAVE and the Irish Penal Reform Trust are calling for.
“Minister Flanagan must also ensure that such crucial decisions rest with a fully independent Parole Board, rather than having parole decisions hang on the decision of the Justice Minister of the day.”