Thousands of people are set to benefit from a new law which allows certain minor convictions to be removed from a person's record after seven years.

The Spent Convictions Bill is one of the last pieces of legislation to pass through both Houses of the Oireachtas in the lifetime of the outgoing Government.

Prior to the passing of the legislation, anyone convicted of an offence must declare that conviction if looking for insurance, travelling to some countries or, in most cases, applying for a job.

However, under the new Bill, after seven years certain convictions will no longer have to be declared or will become spent.

The Bill applies to all convictions as District Court level for motoring and minor public order offences, with dangerous driving limited to a single conviction.

In addition, a person can have one single conviction spent which resulted in a prison term of less than 12 months or a fine.

It does not apply to any conviction for a sexual offence or offence tried in the Central Criminal Court.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust welcomed the development but said it could go much further.