Seanad Group Leader, Senator Catherine Ardagh has raised public concern over the leniency of sentences handed down to those convicted of child abuse or child sex offences and sexual abuse.

Speaking in Seanad Éireann this week, Senator Ardagh said, “Irrespective of any recent high profile case, sadly, victims of child sexual abuse are witnessing those responsible face particularly moderate sentences for their crimes, on a weekly basis in our courts.

“The necessity to update this legislation has been on the table for some time now but Government have not taken any action to fulfil its promise as set out on page 101 of the Programme for Government.

“These are among the most serious offences before our Judiciary, with devastating consequences for victims and their families, and there needs to be a stronger deterrent to stop those that abuse carrying out these malicious acts.

“I very much respect the discretion of the Judges in this State; however, I believe that criminal legislation needs to contain even stronger sanctions to reflect our condemnation of these horrendous crimes and protect children from these abusers.

“Fianna Fáil has proposed to update and expand legislation to effectively deal with sexual offences including stronger criminal penalties and additional safeguards aimed at protecting children from sexual exploitation, child abuse and online grooming.

“It needs to be made abundantly clear that Ireland and our Judiciary have no tolerance for child sexual abuse.

Senator Ardagh concluded, “It’s incumbent on the Government to take urgent action and introduce more stringent legislation to deal with those who abuse children.”