In the past few days, two pieces of news have caught my attention. They are two linked items that give rise to some discrepancies. The first is the seizing of a mansion in Saggart by the Criminal Assets Bureau from the Mansfields on account of it effectively being owned by Daniel Kinahan.
Second is the announcement yesterday by the Minister, Deputy McEntee, that €2 million sourced from the proceeds of crime is to be invested into community projects. The use of cash criminal proceeds in this way is to be lauded indeed. It was from a motion by independent Louth councillors led by Councillor Paddy McQuillan that this brainchild was born. It is our communities on the ground that suffer due to the selfish action of criminals and it is the people of those communities who should receive every support we can give them to build stronger and safer communities. Just as we build up our police force to suppress crime, we must also build up our communities to prevent it. Community projects which foster interconnectivity are an integral part of this. As this use of liquid criminal proceeds is of obvious benefit, why are we so slow to liquidate other assets? This seized mansion, which could fetch anywhere between €1 to €2 million, will instead languish on the books of the Criminal Assets Bureau, CAB, or its approved receiver for years, during which time it will be left vacant serving no one and moneys will have to be spent to maintain it and keep it secure. During the housing crisis, the proceeds from this property could be used to house multiple families or even directly used itself as housing. Why the delay in accomplishing this? It is time to have a look at the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 and allow the CAB to expedite the sale of criminal assets in order that those proceeds might speedily benefit our communities as well. Will the Minister for Justice address the House with her opinions on this matter?