Deputy Denis Naughten
Deputy Denis Naughten
Local TD Denis Naughten is planning to propose new legislation which would allow Gardaí disclose relevant and appropriate information on sex offenders to the parents of children and vulnerable adults who may be at risk.
The Independent TD from South Roscommon is planning to introduce 'The Child Sex Offenders (Information and Monitoring) Bill' in the Dáil on Friday.
“We need to protect the vulnerable not the violators,” stated Deputy Naughten.
“This Bill proposes the establishment of 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.
"It provides for a similar entitlement for persons in authority in schools and clubs.”
The system would be modelled on Sarah’s Law which operates in the UK through the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, named after eight-year-old Sarah Payne who was abducted and murdered in the UK in 2000 by a convicted sex offender.
However, while taking a similar approach to Sarah’s Law, the Bill proposed by Deputy Naughten would restrict the right to make requests for disclosure to parents and guardians of a child or vulnerable adult or those in authority in a school or club who can show reason for the request for disclosure.
“The introduction of a law that allows for disclosure in limited circumstances will change the public attitude to reporting suspicious activity,” he stated.
“This will ensure that such activity is brought to the attention of the Gardaí, thereby, in some cases, leading to further measures to protect children or prosecutions for breaches of sex offenders release conditions.”
The Bill also proposes strengthening the monitoring of child sex offenders post-release "by closing off a number of loopholes."
“The current law governing the conditions for registration - the Sex Offenders Act 2001 - is not fit for purpose and needs to be urgently reformed to ensure more effective management of sex offenders,” said Deputy Naughten.
"One of these loopholes - a 7 day rather than a 3 day notification period (as in UK) - means that a convicted, high risk paedophile can visit the Republic of Ireland from Britain or Northern Ireland unknown to the authorities and can roam around the country without having to register with the Gardaí. This also applies to convicted sex offenders released from prison in the Republic, or those who move from one location to another within this country.
“In 2009, the then Justice Minister stated that the failure to reduce the notification period for the registration of sex offenders would lead to Ireland becoming ‘a safe haven for convicted sex offenders’. Yet, 54 months later, this gaping hole in our so-called sex offenders register has not been closed off,” Deputy Naughten pointed out.
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