The Cabinet has approved proposals to introduce new legislation to allow for longer sentences for offenders who carry out multiple burglaries in private dwellings.

The proposals include stricter bail conditions for those charged with a number of burglaries and consecutive prison sentences for those convicted.

The proposals were brought to Cabinet by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.

The minister said burglary is a serious offence and "always has the danger to escalate into an offence against the person.

"It is the combination of the serious nature of the offence and the fact that burglars tend to be repeat offenders that warrants specific measures aimed at prolific burglars."

The minister has also asked Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan to review the garda response to burglary.

The rate of burglaries increased during the recession and Ms Fitzgerald indicated at the Fine Gael conference in Castlebar that she was planning to introduce new measures to tackle the issue.

Ms O'Sullivan is also reviewing the force's response to the crime of burglary and further announcements are expected.

Operation Fiacla had been set up to target prolific burglars and organised travelling gangs across the country, with another Garda operation (Acer) in the capital, but the minister is still concerned and met senior Garda management last February.

Earlier, Sinn Féin party whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh said more guidelines might be appropriate for judges rather than changing the law to introduce tougher sentences for burglaries.

He said introducing guidelines would be a step that could be taken quite quickly without interfering with the independence of judges and said there was enough legislation in place at present. 

Irish Farmers' Association deputy president Tim O'Leary welcomed the proposals and said: "Over 26,000 burglaries occurred last year, many in remote rural areas.

"Rural security and feeling safe in the family home is a real issue for farm families and rural dwellers right across the country."