Minister of State Kevin 'Boxer' Moran speaking in the Dáil yesterday.

'Debbie's Law' on serial sex offenders passed by the Dáil

A bill aimed at securing longer jail sentences for repeat sex offenders was passed by the Dáil yesterday (Wednesday) evening. 

The legislation introduced by Minister of State Kevin 'Boxer' Moran was inspired by Mullingar resident Debbie Cole, who was the victim of a violent sexual crime when she was aged 19. 

The bill, known as 'Debbie's Law', sets out a presumptive minimum sentence to be imposed on repeat sex offenders in certain circumstances. 

In a cases where a person has previously been jailed for at least five years for a sex offence, the law stipulates that they should be sentenced to three-quarters of the maximum jail term if they commit another sex offence within ten years. 

'Boxer' told the Dáil that it was about "about looking after the Debbie Coles of the world, who have been campaigning for this legislation for 20 years."

However, the bill came in for some strong criticism from Deputies Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, with the latter describing it as "one of the worst pieces of legislation" to have come before the Dáil.

"The measures being put forward in the legislation do not act as a deterrent and will not in any way have an impact on reoffending," said Deputy Daly. 

The Dublin TD said she fully agreed that Ireland has "a significant problem with sexual violence and with how our criminal justice deals with it, including by means of sentencing," however she said the bill will not address those issues.

The bill, she said, "flies in the face of evidence-based policy and legislation."

Deputy Wallace felt the Government would be better off "proposing legislation that makes it mandatory for sexual offenders to do therapy while in prison."

Despite the dissenting voices, the bill was passed and will now go to the Seanad. If approved by the Seanad, it will be sent to President Higgins in order to be signed into law.