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Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 5°C
sex tourism

'Children's lives have been taken from them': Bill proposes to restrict foreign travel of convicted paedophiles

Campaigners have said sex tourism from Ireland is growing.

TDS HAVE BEEN urged today to support a new bill which proposes to curtail foreign travel of convicted paedophiles.

If enacted, Ireland would be the first country in the European Union to restrict travel abroad of convicted child sex offenders.

Today the People’s Recovery Empowerment Development Assistance Foundation (Preda) called for support for the bill, which has been proposed by Independents for Change TD Maureen O’Sullivan.

Preda’s Gráinne Kenny said O’Sullivan had been the only TD to respond to her “endless emails” about the need for this legislation, which she said would ”keep our dirt at home”.

“We have to protect the dignity of small children,” she said.

These children have been raped – their lives have been taken from them.

Speaking to reporters in Dublin today, Preda founder Father Shay Cullen, who has campaigned for decades for children’s rights, called on other Irish parliamentarians to support the bill.

Fr Cullen has a children’s home in the city of Olongapa in the Philippines, where he has worked for more than thirty years to improve the lives of vulnerable children living there.

In the Philippines, there are few reliable statistics for the number of young children abused, but Unicef estimates it to be 60,000 annually.

The Preda home for abused girls and boys has helped hundreds of these children – some as young as eight years old – to recover from the trauma. Many of these children were abused in their own homes and after they ran away, they were picked up on the street by traffickers.

Cullen explained that a lot of this activity is now facilitated by the Dark Web as sex offenders can bid on children in online auctions and then travel to the Philippines to a sex bar to collect them. He said there has also been an increase in the live streaming of child sexual abuse by their own family members.

‘They know what’s going on’

The foundation said sex tourism from Ireland is growing and it is vital that the government here does something to stop convicted sex offenders here from travelling to countries where there is little or no protection for children.

“Police and pimps are working together to exploit these children and sell them to foreign tourists,” he said. He also pointed out that the government is issuing licences to the sex bars where children are being abused.

“They know what’s going on and they don’t do anything to curtail it – in fact they encourage it.”

The country’s president Rodrigo Duterte recently joked about offering “42 virgins” to visitors to the Philippines.

“Imagine what that’s doing for our tourist industry – bringing in the paedophiles,” Cullen said.

Maureen O’Sullivan told reporters that there is interest in this bill in the Houses of Oireachtas and Minister of State Denis Staunton has said he would be “very keen to support it”.

In practice, the bill could mean a requirement for convicted child sex offenders to have a special stamp on their passports.

O’Sullivan said that in drafting the proposed legislation, she had to be mindful of the constitutional implications as it could impinge on a person’s fundamental right to travel. She said this bill would enable judges to use their powers to impose restrictions.

The bill has gone through the first stage in the Dáil and O’Sullivan said she will be using the next Private Members Business time for her political grouping to push forward with it.

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