The Government is to bring in new legislation to increase the maximum jail sentence for conspiracy to murder to life in prison.

Gardaí, victims of crime and members of the judiciary have in the past highlighted the perceived leniency of the sentence - at present a maximum of ten years - for such a serious crime.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the increase is targeted at gangland criminals. She also announced that another new separate piece of legislation would create three new terrorist offences.

Nineteen members of the Kinahan organised crime group have been jailed at the Special Criminal Court in the last two years, nine of them for conspiracy to murder.

All have been jailed for less than ten years - the maximum sentence for the offence, which has remained so since 1861.

The presiding judge at the Special Criminal Court, who has found the Kinahan gang to be involved in execution-style murders, has also highlighted what he called this "anomaly" in the law when it comes to sentencing gangsters involved in attempted assassinations.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt said he was of a mind to impose more severe penalties on the foiled assassins, but his "hands were tied" by the law.

Senior Kinahan gang members Alan Wilson, Dean Howe and Liam Brannigan were jailed for six, six and eight-and-a-half years respectively for trying to kill a rival Hutch gang member, while the Estonian hitman Imre Arakas, who came to Ireland to kill a Hutch gang member, also received six years.

Minister McEntee announced that the Government will draft new legislation to increase the maximum sentence.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms McEntee said there are two acts which preclude a judge from imposing a sentence longer than ten years for conspiracy to murder and she wants to change this with new legislation.

In recent years, she said, gardai have foiled at least 75 different attempts that they believe would have ended in death.

She said the law is targeted at gangland criminals and that the seriousness of the crime must be reflected in the sentences judges can impose.

The Minister also announced that the Government has approved a new bill, which will create new terrorist offences: Travelling for the purpose of terrorism, organising or facilitating such travel, and receiving training for terrorism.

Ms McEntee added that gardai must be kept safe and protected and since April there have been 200 incidents in which gardai were coughed or spat at.

She said that spit hoods are used in limited circumstances and were only introduced as an emergency measure.

However, she said, she noted the recommendations from the Policing Authority, which criticised the use of spit hoods, and these will be taken into consideration.