Legislation creating the database passed all stages of the Oireachtas yesterday, marking a landmark in criminal law and policing.
It will allow investigators to check samples from crime scenes with samples taken from suspects and convicted criminals, including sex offenders.
The Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Bill 2013 will now go before the President to be signed into law. A spokesman at the Department of Justice said that the “intention is to have the database operational by the end of the year”.
Frances Fitzgerald, the justice minister, said yesterday: “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.”
Ireland is thought to be the only country in the EU that does not have such a database.
The technology has the added benefit of facilitating the searching of national DNA databases. It will have two divisions, investigation and identification.
The investigation division will try and match a DNA profile from an individual to an unidentified profile taken from a crime scene.
The identification division will assist with identifying missing and unknown persons (those who are severely ill or injured who cannot identify themselves).
The investigation division will comprise a crime scene index; a reference index and an elimination index. The crime index are profiles from DNA samples from crime scenes. The reference index will contain profiles from:
- Most suspects (other than children under 14 and protected persons) detained by gardaí in relation to serious offences;
- Criminals on the sex offenders’ register after the commencement of the legislation;
- Offenders subject to imprisonment for a serious offence;
- Some former offenders no longer subject to sentence.
The elimination indexes are profiles from officials and police.
The act allows the retention of profiles for six years for adults and three years for children. The system will be subject to independent oversight by a statutory committee.