A new burglary law has come into operation which will target repeat offenders with consecutive sentences and the option for bail to be denied.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said: "Burglary of a person's home is a heinous crime and traumatic for every victim."

"This important new act targets repeat burglars. It will help keep repeat burglars off the streets and improve the safety of our communities.

"The act allows for bail to be denied, and consecutive sentences to be given, to repeat burglars."

The Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Act 2015 provides that, for the purposes of bail applications, a previous conviction for domestic burglary coupled with two or more pending charges shall be evidence of likelihood to commit further domestic burglaries.

This provision allows a court, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to conclude that the accused person is likely to commit a serious offence and could, therefore, refuse bail on that ground.

Ms Fitzgerald added: "I am prioritising efforts to tackle Ireland's hardened cohort of repeat offenders. Tackling repeat offending will reduce crime levels and this new act is an important step forward."

The act also places a requirement on a court which decides to impose prison sentences for multiple burglary offences to impose those sentences consecutively.

The Executive Director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust has raised concerns about compulsory consecutive sentencing. 

"Whenever you impose mandatory sentences it almost always results in some injustice," Deirdre Malone said.

Ms Malone said that the measure operated on the basis that prison was a deterrent, and there was little evidence that this was the case.

Ms Malone said evidence also showed that it was not particularly effective at reducing re-offending, citing figures from 2008 which showed that more than 60% of those initially imprisoned for a burglary offence, re-offended within three years.

Ms Malone added that it was incongruent to treat one particular offence differently to others that were equally as serious, and she said the provisions imposed in this legislation were too rigid to keep up with evolving research and penal philosophy.