Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson, Jim O’Callaghan TD says a new Bill being brought forward by his party will introduce more stringent legislation to deal with those 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.

Commenting on the Bill, Deputy O’Callaghan said, “At present, the law 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 – 17. The Fianna Fáil Bill seeks to increase this to a period of 15 years. The law also provides for a maximum prison sentence of 15 years if the perpetrator is a person “in authority”.

“Currently a life sentence can be imposed if the victim is under 15 years of age and Fianna Fáil believes that this should be extended up to 17 years of age.Therfore our Bill seeks to increase the possible sentence to a maximum of life imprisonment.

“Increasing sentences in this way is a legitimate response to public concern about penalties imposed on those convicted of child abuse or child sex offences. We hope to move this Bill when the Dáil returns.

“Sexual offences against children are among the most serious offences before our courts and have lasting, lifelong consequences for victims and their families. It is the responsibility of the Oireachtas to set maximum sentences for these crimes and if we want stronger sentences then the Oireachtas must change the law.

“The timescale and delay of the government to date in updating current legislation, as committed to on page 101 of the Programme for Government, has prompted Fianna Fáil to put forward this bill.

He concluded, “I hope to get support from other parties and members of the Oireachtas for these proposals.”