Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson, Jim O’Callaghan TD has said that a new Bill introduced by his party in Dáil Éireann this afternoon will provide for heightened legislation to deal with the perpetrators who abuse children.

The ‘Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2017’ seeks to provide for increased penalties for those found guilty of the sexual exploitation of children in Ireland.

Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy O’Callaghan said, “Sexual offences carried out against children are among the most heinous crimes conceivable and have lifelong consequences for victims and their loved ones.

“There are a number of essential amendments required to update legislation in order to more appropriately reflect the nature of these offence(s). This Bill is a legitimate response to growing public concern regarding the degree of penalty imposed on those convicted of child abuse or child sex offences.

“Existing legislation provides for a maximum prison sentence of 7 years for a person who engages in a sexual act with someone between the ages of 15 and 17. The Bill that I have introduced today seeks to extend this to a period of 15 years.

“Currently, a life sentence can only be imposed if the victim is 15 years of age or younger but I believe that this should be extended up to the age of 17.

“It is the responsibility of the Oireachtas to determine maximum sentences for these crimes. There must be a change to law to bring about an end to what the public view as particularly lenient sentences for villainous actions.

He concluded, “The perpetrators of these crimes especially those in a position of authority should be as deterred from wrongdoing as possible, increasing sentences is one means of doing so.

“I am confident that this Bill will receive the support from other parties and members of the Oireachtas.”