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Denis Naughten speaking in his private members' bill in the Dáil this morning. Screengrab
Sex Offenders

‘No foot-dragging’: Government promises draft sex offenders bill by end of the month

The heads of a bill to deal with sex offenders will be published by the government before the end of the month, as the Dáil debated an independent TD’s proposed legislation today.

Updated 11.15pm

THE GOVERNMENT HAS promised that legislation dealing with sex offenders will be published in draft form by the end of the month insisting there will be “no foot-dragging” on the issue.

Speaking on behalf of the Justice Minister in the Dáil today the Minister of State Brian Hayes said that the government will not oppose the Child Sex Offenders Information and Monitoring Bill that was introduced by the Reform Alliance TD Denis Naughten.

The bill will now go to the Oireachtas Justice  Committee but Hayes confirmed that the government intends to bring forward its own heads of bill before the end of the month to deal with “this multifaceted issue”.

Naughten earlier told the Dáil that one-in-five people on the current sex offenders register have breached the conditions of it. He said that the current system isn’t working.

He explained that there are currently 1,303 people on the sex offenders register and claimed that between 2004 and June this year there have been 261 recorded breaches of its conditions.

Naughten’s bill proposes to establish the Information on Child Sex Offenders Scheme which would enable parents or guardians to find out whether a person coming into contact with their child or vulnerable adult has been convicted of a sexual offence or poses a danger to them.

Speaking today Hayes said that any bill must take account of the fact that most sexual violence against children or vulnerable adults are likely to be committed by a family member.

He told the Dáil: “My concern is that the dominance in the discourse of the risk posed by a shadow behind a bush, instead of the footstep on the stairs, can divert our attention from the greatest likelihood of danger to children and may make it more difficult for children to report abuse by those they trust and depend on most.”

Naughten said that he is anxious that current loopholes be closed off and welcomed the government’s support for the legislation.

Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on children, Robert Troy, said that garda resources needed to be protected in order to ensure the government is committed to dealing with child sexual abuse.

“There are areas that have to be given priority and this is one of those,” he said referring to the register

“We do not need other cases like the shocking one in Athlone last week that horrified parents across Ireland,” Troy added, referring to an alleged sexual assault of two girls at a children’s birthday partylast month.

First published 2pm

Earlier: A Sarah’s Law for Ireland: Dáil to discuss child sex offenders bill

Shatter: Government will not oppose Child Sex Offenders Bill

Column: We need a version of ‘Sarah’s Law’ to help protect children

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