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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 19 January 2021
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Shatter: Government will not oppose Child Sex Offenders Bill

The bill – which was put forward by the Reform Alliance – will be discussed by the Dáil on Friday.

Image: Child and swing shadow via Shutterstock

THE GOVERNMENT WILL not oppose a bill on child sex offenders, the Justice Minister said today.

Minister Alan Shatter said that the Government will not oppose the bill at second stage, and that it will be on the agenda for Dáil members to discuss this week.

The Child Sex Offenders (Information and Monitoring) Bill 2012 will be discussed in the Dáil this Friday. It was put forward by the Reform Alliance member Deputy Denis Naughten.

Minister Shatter recommended to Cabinet today that the Government should not oppose the bill when it reaches second stage, and this was agreed on by all the members.

Minister Shatter said that they won’t oppose the bill at this stage “as it affords a valuable opportunity to discuss in the Dáil risks posed to children by paedophiles”.

He said that the government shares these concerns and that this area “has been given substantial consideration by me and by my officials in the Department of Justice”

Denis Naughten TD has welcomed the Government’s decision to accept his legislation, which would allow information on sex offenders to be made available to the parents of children and vulnerable adults who may be at risk.

He also welcomed confirmation that the legislation is to be incorporated into Government legislation on sex offenders which will be published in the coming weeks.

This is an issue that I have felt strongly about for some time, particularly since coming across a worrying incident in 2011 which at the time had the potential to put the safety of children at risk.

He described it as a “significant step forward in protecting children by providing parents – for the first time in Irish law – with the right to access relevant information from the Gardaí regarding a high risk sex offender who is living in their community”.

Naughten added that the bill will also close “significant loopholes for the abuse of the sex offenders’  register”.

He thanked the parents that initially brought this issue to his attention and the hundreds of parents around the country who have contacted him on this issue, as well as thanking the Minister for Justice.

Constitution

Minister Shatter said that the specific provisions contained in Deputy Naughten’s bill give rise to a number of practical difficulties and “raise issues both of a constitutional nature and under the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”.

Shatter intends to publish the General Scheme of a Sexual Offences Bill addressing a broad range of issues, once it has been considered by Cabinet, in the coming weeks.

This draft legislation will include provision for a statutory basis for disclosures to members of the public and for the putting in place of an appropriate scheme, he said.

The Department of Justice and Equality has conducted a thorough examination of the law on sexual offences, added the Minister.

Read: Serious criminals will have DNA logged on international database>

Read: One in Four calls for more treatment in the community for sex offenders>

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