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3 YEARS AFTER NALLY CASE..NEW RIGHT TO DEFEND YOUR HOME; Fine Gael unveil new Bill to protect us against intruders.

Byline: AINE HEGARTY

FINE Gael will bring tough new laws into the Dail this week which will protect home owners who confront burglars.

The Irish Daily Mirror has been campaigning for new rules to protect homeowners for the last three years.

The country has seen a number of high-profile cases including that of farmer Padraig Nally, who shot John Frog Ward after he tried to break into his home in 2005.

Mr Nally was acquitted of Mr Ward's manslaughter following a retrial in 2006.

The farmer had told the court that in the 18 months before the shooting that he was terrorised by burglars who broke into his property twice - leaving him feeling paranoid and fearful.

Under current laws, there is an obligation on the owner to retreat in the face of an intruder but Fine Gael want this scrapped.

They also want juries to take into account if an owner's children or family members were in the house at the time and that they had limited time or options to defend themselves when they attacked the intruder.

Fine Gael said its proposals will "rebalance the law in favour of the home-owner". The party's Justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan said the new laws would remove "uncertainty" which homeowners face when forced to defend themselves from attackers in the home.

The proposed bill would:

Remove any question of homeowners having to retreat if they are confronted by an intruder

Create a presumption in law that any force used by someone in defending their home is reasonable, and

Ban burglars from suing homeowners if they have an accident or injure themselves during a robbery. Mr Flanagan said: "What Fine Gael want is greater protection for homeowners when they come across intruders, burglars or trespassers in their homes during the day or late at night.

"I believe that our reform of the home defence laws is most important.

"On a regular basis we have homeowners subjected to violent attacks by burglars.

"Innocent families in their home need reassurances that the law is on their side. Fine Gael's bill rebalances the law in their favour"

Mr Flanagan has urged the Government to accept his proposals, which will be introduced as a private members bill, saying it could be law within weeks.

"There's a real fear on the part of families that burglars have free passage and that if a burglar is confronted by a homeowner that the law is on the side of the burglars

"If a burglar breaks their leg falling down the stairs in the house there's a doubt as to the legal position "If a homeowner, on the spur of a moment assaults a burglar, the legal position is uncertain.

"What Fine Gael is going is to do is ensure that the law favours the homeowner or the family as against the trespasser or burglar."

Irish Mirror Comment: Page 10

THE PROPOSED BILL WOULD:

Remove any question of homeowners having to retreat if they are confronted by an intruder

Create a presumption in law that any force used by someone in defending their home is reasonable

Ban intruders/burglars from suing homeowners if they have an accident or injure themselves during a robbery

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PROTECTION Nally was cleared of manslaughter FIGHT BACK The Mirror has been calling for new laws
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 16, 2009
Words:549
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