A consultation process on the regulation of the “cash for gold” trade in a bid to clamp down on thefts of jewellery and precious metals has been announced by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
But the initiative has been deemed “pointless” by the Independent TD Mattie McGrath, who said two bills he published on the issue — in 2012 and 2014 — were rejected by the Government.
Mr McGrath said he had been “constantly assured” by successive ministers of justice that plans to deal with cash for gold shops were “imminent”.
The Department of Justice yesterday said there were “legal and practical” deficiencies with the previous bills. The department is seeking submissions before October 30 and has published a consultation document.
“The minister is aware of the concerns that have been expressed that the irregular trade in second-hand precious metals and stones has the potential to fuel crimes such as burglaries and thefts given the ease by which items of jewellery can be melted down and made untraceable,” said the spokesman.
Shops affected include cash for gold outlets, as well as jewellers and antique dealers.
The consultation document said the department published a report in 2012, followed by an Oireachtas Library report in 2013 and a further report that year by the Oireachtas justice committee.
The department then drew up a draft Heads of a Precious Metal (Cash Dealers) Bill.
This provided for a regulatory regime based on registration and compliance monitoring of traders, but has not progressed since.
The document sets out three options: A minimalist approach using existing legislation; a comprehensive system of registration, monitoring and greater Garda powers; and a “mid-way” regulation and penalties approach.
“It absolutely beggars belief that that the minister is going to engage in this utterly pointless process given the urgency of the situation,” said Mr McGrath.
“This is absolutely outrageous and proves that there was no intention whatsoever of dealing with this unregulated sector.”
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