Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Robert Troy TD has called on the government to prioritise the Children First Bill 2014. The legislation will make it a legal requirement to report known cases of child abuse to An Garda Siochána.

Deputy Troy made the comments following the recent revelations that elected representatives in Sinn Féin failed to alert the Gardai to the fact that a self-confessed multiple sex abuser was at large in the community when they became aware of that fact from as early as 2002.

Deputy Troy commented, “The recent revelation that elected representatives in Sinn Féin failed to alert the Gardai to the presence of a self-confessed multiple sex abuser in the community is harrowing. It demonstrates that the government needs to take urgent action to protect children.

“The National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children sets out a number of key messages relating to the duty to protect children. The guidelines request that any known instances of child sexual abuse be urgently brought to the attention of the Gardai. However the revelations over the last number of days show us that there are some in our community who feel it is more important to protect their own organisations rather than safeguard children.

“In light of this the government must make it a priority to progress the Children First Bill through the Oireachtas. I raised this matter in the Dáil today during Order of Business and highlighted the importance of progressing this bill. This legislation will make it mandatory for an individual to report known instances of child abuse to the Gardai by putting the National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children on a statutory footing. I also outlined that there needs to be strong sanctions for those that decide not to comply with the legislation.

“It is our moral duty to bring any known cases of child sexual abuse to the attention of Gardai. It is reprehensible to think that there are some who would put children at risk by allowing a self-confessed child sex abuser to remain in the community. In an ideal world we would not need to legislate in this area. However the events of the last few days show us that legislation is necessary.

“I call on Minister for Children James Reilly to prioritise the Children First Bill to help protect vulnerable children. When assuming office the government promised that these guidelines would be put on a statutory footing. However 4 years later we are still waiting as the relevant legislation is stuck at second stage. The time has come for the government to urgently progress this legislation in the interests of child safety.”