New law needed to allow parents to access information on paedophiles – Naughten

In Families by Denis Naughten

“The law in this Country must be changed to allow parents to find out if a paedophile is living in their community” claims Denis Naughten TD.

“With the disclosure today that Gardai are investigating the possibility of a paedophile ring operating in Donegal, it is imperative that tighter controls on convicted rapists and paedophiles, must be introduced, including plans to tag convicted sex offenders”, Denis Naughten told the Dáil today.

“Last year alone nearly 2,400 sexual offences were recorded in Ireland,” stated Denis Naughten. “We have seen sex offenders granted remission and released back into our communities often without having received rehabilitation and without proper supervision on release.

“Over two years ago the last Government promised to legislate for the introduction of electronic tagging and nothing has happened. The communities in which convicted sex offenders are living anonymously need action not words.

“Tagging sex offenders is the only foolproof way of monitoring the movements of convicted sex offenders on their release from prison and is the best means of protecting people in our communities.”

Furthermore, plans by the Department of Justice measures which would allow in certain circumstances parents, guardians and carers to ask Gardaí whether people who have access to their child have committed child sexual offences. Gardaí would then have the option to reveal the information, or take further action if they believe there is further risk.

“The reality is that there is a legitimate interest in information being made available to parents where a danger to the public exists, and the Government must introduce such legislation, without delay” concluded Denis Naughten.

ENDS.

Editor’s Note: Please find enclosed Dail record from earlier today and the Dáil response on Sarah’s Law from previous Minister for Justice. The provisions of the UK’s ‘Sarah’s Law’ allows parents, guardians and carers to ask police whether people who have access to their child have committed child sexual offences. Police then have the option to reveal the information, or take further action if they believe there is further risk.

 

Dail Eireann
Order of Business 20th July 2011


Deputy Denis Naughten: I refer to two items of promised legislation. In light of headlines in today’s newspapers regarding a possible paedophile ring in County Donegal and the recording of nearly 2,400 sexual offences in Ireland last year, I note the Government has plans to introduce tighter controls on convicted rapists and paedophiles, including plans to tag convicted sex offenders. What is the present status of that legislation? Second, the former Minister for Justice and Law Reform gave a commitment in the House to introduce legislation to facilitate the provision of information to parents and those involved in providing employment to sex offenders and so forth, as well as to put that mechanism on a statutory footing in order that people in communities that may be at risk might be made aware, through An Garda Síochána, of a person’s conviction. This commitment has yet to be put on a statutory footing.

 

An Ceann Comhairle: I thank the Deputy.

 

Deputy Denis Naughten: When will this legislation be forthcoming?

 

The Taoiseach: I cannot give the Deputy an exact date. As he is aware, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has published the Children First requirements. These are to be backed up by legislation currently being drafted by the Minister for Justice and Equality. This is a matter of obvious priority for the Government, which is the reason a Minister with specific responsibility for children was appointed. I regret being obliged to read the appalling situation as outlined in newspapers today regarding a school in County Donegal. I will let the Deputy know when the Government has a better fix on when the legislation will be brought before the House.

 

QUESTION NOS: 587

DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister for Justice and Law Reform (Mr. Ahern)
by Deputy Denis Naughten
for WRITTEN on Wednesday, 12th January, 2011.


* 587. To ask the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his plans to introduce legislation similar to Sarah’s law in the UK on the provision of information to parents regarding sex offenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Denis Naughten

 

REPLY.

As the Deputy may know, the Garda Síochána has a system in place for the monitoring of all persons subject to the notification requirements – sex offenders’ register – of the Sex Offenders Act 2001 . Their Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit monitors and manages the notification provisions and maintains all information relating to persons who have obligations under the Act. There is a nominated Garda Inspector in each Garda Division who has responsibility for the monitoring of persons subject to the requirements of the Act in his/her Division.

In January, 2009 I published a comprehensive discussion document on the management of sex offenders. One of the issues raised was the question of whether the name and address of sex offenders who completed their sentences should be made public. Following publication of the document my Department invited comment and held a forum to hear the views of a range of interested parties. The universal view of those who responded was that such a general approach to the publication of this type of information would be counter productive and would, in all probability, drive sex offenders underground where they could not be monitored and where they were more likely to re-offend. There was, however, support for the view that those with a legitimate interest should receive appropriate information and, if there was a danger to the public, the Gardai should be able to make the identity of a sex offender known. Provision of information to the public in exceptional circumstances, including the provision of appropriate information to parents, is already possible on an administrative basis. Subject to Government approval, it is intended to introduce legislative provisions to put such disclosure on a statutory footing. This would have the effect of allowing the Gardai to warn individuals of a particular danger or to respond to specific requests.