The Corporate Manslaughter Bill, which has been making its way through the Oireachtas since 2016, is designed to plug a hole in the Irish statue books in relation to corporate accountability.
Fianna Fáil’s Mark Daly has insisted the Bill must be progressed and he raised the issue of corporate manslaughter in the Seanad as the jury in the Hillsborough trial retired to consider verdict.
‘This is a timely reminder of the need for corporate responsibility as we have seen many times before, unfortunately, through tragedy. This Bill is about addressing the current gap which exists within Irish law that fails to hold corporate entities and State agencies criminally liable for unlawful deaths that occurred as a result of their actions or negligence,’ said the senator.
A 2005 Law Reform Commission Report identified a gap in Irish legislation in relation to corporate manslaughter and recommended a similar Bill, the Criminal Justice (Corporate Manslaughter) Bill be introduced. But it was never progressed.
Senator Daly said the Bill currently before the Oireachtas will have the ability to hold corporations to account even in situations where no one individual is found to be responsible.
He added: ‘The Bill will also allow for prison terms to be handed down if a court deems it necessary. I believe that the real impact of passing this legislation will be felt by a change in outlook and approach among senior management.
‘If they can be held accountable for their actions or their failure to act, it may cause them to think and care more about their actions.’ In January the son of a victim of 1979’s Whiddy Island disaster accused the State of treating Irish workers as second-class citizens by failing to pass legislation on corporate manslaughter.
Attending a Mass to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the oil tanker fire disaster, in which 51 people died, Michael Kingston said that other people should not have to go through what his family had suffered.
The Government press office has not yet replied to a request for comment.