Denis Naughten TD is calling on the Minister for Justice to fast track a law to close gaping loopholes in the monitoring of paedophiles and to provide parents with basic information on high risk sex offenders. This follows the revelation that the Government’s planned reforms in this area will not be implemented in advance of the General Election.
He has also described reports in today’s papers regarding the suspicious behaviour of a man seen photographing children outside Dublin schools as “very concerning”.
“These reports are of real concern, particularly when the Justice Minister has just revealed that it is still some time before we will see the Government’s proposed law to overhaul the outdated rules for monitoring sex offenders [see Dail reply below].In practical terms it is now unlikely that this law will be passed in advance of the General Election,” stated Denis Naughten.
According to Deputy 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. In the meantime a dangerous loophole in the monitoring of high risk sex offenders remains open for abuse.
“In October 2013 the Government unanimously accepted a law which would close down some of the current loopholes in the sex offenders register which are leaving Gardai with one hand tied behind their back in trying to monitor high risk sex offenders living in the community,” stated Denis Naughten.
“The reform of the law, which I sponsored, would close a number of registration loopholes and allow for far more effective monitoring of sex offenders by Gardai. The legislation would also create a system which would enable parents to enquire whether persons coming into contact with their child or vulnerable adult have been convicted of a sexual offence or otherwise pose a serious danger.
“This law, the Child Sex Offenders (Information and Monitoring) Bill 2012 is already in the system, accepted by Government, and could be fast tracked and be enforced by Gardai before the summer.”
Denis Naughten added: “Not only will the new law give Gardai more powers to monitor high risk convicted sex offenders but it also encourages parents to report suspicious activity to the Gardai by allowing the Gardai to disclose relevant information to parents about a high risk sex offender in the community.”
Dail reply attached from Minister for Justice
QUESTION NO: 23
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Ms. Fitzgerald)
by Deputy Denis Naughten TD
To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to publish the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Bill; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
– Denis Naughten
On 27 November 2014, I published the General Scheme of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill. The General Scheme includes wide ranging provisions to enhance the protection of children and vulnerable persons from sexual abuse and exploitation. When enacted, the Bill will facilitate full compliance with the criminal law provisions of a number of EU, UN and Council of Europe legal instruments. The Bill will also implement the recommendations of a number of Oireachtas committees, reform the law on incest and update the Sex Offenders Act 2001. In addition, the Bill will provide for new offences of purchasing, in the context of prostitution, sexual services.
As the Deputy will appreciate, this is a complex piece of legislation which addresses a number of sensitive issues. The Bill is priority legislation and is currently being drafted, with a view to publication later this year.