DNA database to 'close the net on serial offenders'
Victim groups have heralded the arrival of a new "state-of-the-art" DNA crime database that will help "put violent criminals behind bars".
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the introduction of the system is a "historic moment for criminal investigation in Ireland".
"The new DNA database is a hugely significant development in assisting An Garda Siochana," she said.
"It is vital that our police force has all it requires, including the most modern technology, to protect the State and its citizens from crime.
"This high-quality intelligence tool will be invaluable in the fight against 'volume crime', such as burglary and theft, and also in the investigation of serious offences against the person.
"The database will also assist in finding and identifying missing or unknown persons."
The minister added that the database will be compiled with samples from current and previous offenders as well as unknown samples detected at crime scenes.
"The new system will help the gardai to close the net on these serial offenders. The database will be populated with unidentified DNA profiles from crime scenes - these 'cold case' profiles can then be matched with DNA profiles uploaded from individuals under criminal investigation, convicted criminals and former offenders, with a view to solving these crimes."
Sex attackers can now be sought out by gardai to provide swabs, which could lead to thousands of arrests when cross-referenced with 'crime scene stains'. Gardai will be tasked with tracking down the 1,280 people on the Sex Offender's Register.
Additionally 1,500 inmates out of the 4,100 serving terms of five years or more are supposed to have been swabbed for the new database.
A Justice Department spokesman has said that sex offenders convicted prior to the 2014 DNA Act coming into force, and serving a prison sentence or on temporary release or on the Sex Offenders Register on commencement of the legislation, can all be sampled for their DNA profile.
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre CEO Ellen O'Malley Dunlop has said the system will be a "valuable tool".
"In time, it will no doubt help to catch proprietors of sexual crimes. Perhaps it will also help put those who have evaded justice where they belong - behind bars."
The database will be operational from November 20 and will be based in Forensic Science Ireland in the Phoenix Park.