Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has said the proposed bill on bail will strengthen the operation of the bail system, giving further powers to gardaí and making the law as effective as possible.

Ms Fitzgerald has brought the bill to Cabinet, as well as the general outline of a bill on judicial appointments.

Under the proposed bill on bail, the law would be changed to allow for the electronic tagging of certain suspects while they are awaiting trial.

Legislation in 2007 permitted a court to allow electronic tagging to be a condition of bail.

However, this provision has not been used due to concerns that it could have been overused with operational and cost implications.

Under the Bail (Amendment) Bill brought by Ms Fitzgerald the prosecution must apply to a court for a suspect to be electronically tagged ahead of their trial.

A working group is being established to look at the matter.

The bill will also increase the factors that a court may take into account when refusing bail. These factors include if the suspect is a repeat serious offender and likelihood of any danger to a person or the community if the accused were released on bail.

The bill will also increase conditions that may be attached to bail.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, the minister said the courts will decide on who is to be tagged and it will be monitored and operated by gardaí.

Ms Fitzgerald described it as a targeted initiative for those judged to be at most risk of offending while on bail. 

While she said there are financial implications in relation to the bill she added "it's hard to estimate precisely the costing at this point".

She said she will be having discussions with the Minister for Public Expenditure, saying it will be difficult for the Department of Justice to find all of the money from existing resources. 

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Shane Ross welcomes approval for judicial appointments bill

The Cabinet also agreed the general outline of a bill on a judicial appointments commission, which would have a lay majority and be headed by a lay chair.

The issue is a key priority for Minister for Transport Shane Ross and has been a source of tension within Government.

However, the Programme for Government commits to a lay majority and a lay head of the commission.

"The lay members of the commission will be selected by the Public Appointments Service and the PAS will also select the chairperson," said Ms Fitzgerald.

"The scheme also refers to the desirability of both gender balance and diversity based on the population among the judiciary, and among those who are selected to be lay members of the commission."

Welcoming Cabinet approval, Mr Ross said he expected that it would pass through the Dáil next year although some in Fianna Fáil want a majority of the members to be legal experts and also for the chief justice to chair it. 

Mr Ross said there was agreement with Fianna Fáil on a large amount and he hoped they could reconcile any differences.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin today said it would be inconceivable that the Chief Justice would not chair a new body to appoint judges.

Mr Ross said the proposals for a lay majority and lay chair were contained in the Programme for Government and it was very important. He added it was too early to talk about compromise on this issue. 

He also said that maybe some of the language he had used on the matter had been too colourful. 

Mr Ross said the commission would comprise 11 members compared to 12 under the previous system.

Under the general scheme of the bill, there will be a substantial judicial presence on the commission and also nominees from the Bar Council and Law Library. 

The Attorney General will also be a member of the commission. For the first time, long-standing academics will be eligible for appointment to judicial office.