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Is Ireland becoming a "safe haven" for sex offenders?

An independent TD says a loophole means it is.

Image: Shutterstock/BortN66

A TD HAS warned that Ireland is becoming a “safe haven” for sex offenders because of a legal loophole.

Independent TD Denis Naughten says that a hole in the law allows convicted sex offenders come to Ireland unencumbered.

In 2009 former Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said that the failure to close off the notification period loophole for the registration of sex offenders would lead to Ireland becoming a “safe haven for convicted sex offenders”.

Naughten says that that prophecy has come true, as shown by a case yesterday which saw a convicted British paedophile sentenced to 10 months in jail, having posed as a talent agent for children in Galway.

At present, a convicted paedophile can visit Ireland from Britain or Northern Ireland and roam freely throughout the country without registering with the Gardai for up to a week.

“In theory, the same notification procedure applied to Irish sex offenders applies for those convicted of serious sexual offences in other jurisdictions, but it is reliant on the offender voluntarily reporting to the Gardai within seven days of arrival.

“Unsurprisingly, there have been a number of instances in the past where dangerous sex offenders wanted by the police in either Northern Ireland or Britain were subsequently located in the Republic.”

According to Naughten the current law governing the conditions for registration, the Sex Offenders Act 2001, is “not fit for purpose” and needs to urgently be reformed to ensure more effective management of sex offenders.

Closed before the year ends?

The Department of Justice says that the loophole will be closed before the year ends.

“[New legislation] will amend the Sex Offenders Act 2001 which will include stricter notification requirements on convicted sex offenders as well as the disclosure, in certain circumstances, of information relating to sex offenders.

“In terms of the notification requirements, in addition to informing An Garda Síochána of his or her name and address, an offender will also be required (under the new provisions) to allow fingerprints, palm prints or photographs to be taken. The timeframe for making notifications to the Gardaí will also be reduced from seven days to three days.

“In addition, where an offender’s whereabouts become unknown, information regarding that person and any risk posed may be disclosed to the wider public.”

Read: Mandatory treatment for sex offenders “not a realistic option”

Read: Garda PULSE system “not fit for purpose” and should be scrapped

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