Government Publishes Child Solicitation Legislation

The Government has published emergency legislation to close a loophole in the laws protecting children from sexual predators. The law is due to be passed by the Dáil tonight and the Seanad tomorrow.

It will re-apply the offence of soliciting a child for sexual purposes, which was accidentally deleted last year. The proposed Bill would also impose tougher penalties for the offence, as well as introducing a new offence of ‘grooming’.

Tanáiste and Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, promised to introduce the legislation after the Labour Party pointed out the loophole in the Dáil last week. Opposition parties say the Government’s legislation is in some parts directly copied from a private members bill from Fine Gael, published in 2004.

Mr McDowell plans to have all stages of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill 2007 passed by 11.30pm.

This evening, a Fine Gael measure on sexual grooming of children is to be debated in Private Members’ time.