Murnane O'Connor welcomes Cabinet approval for new Bill criminalising the grooming of children into crime

Published on: 20 January 2023

·         Up to five years in prison for grooming children into a life of crime
·         New legislation will give An Garda Síochána and other State agencies a mandate to intervene at a local level to disrupt and prevent this harm from taking place
Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow and spokesperson on Children, Jennifer Murnane O'Connor, has today welcomed Cabinet approval to publish the Criminal Justice (Engagement of Children in Criminal Activity) Bill 2023.
The Bill will, for the first time, create specific offences where an adult compels, coerces, induces or invites a child to engage in criminal activity.
Fianna Fáil in Government is determined to protect children and teenagers from being coerced into a life of crime and the penalty on conviction is up to five year’s imprisonment.
The new offence will be a separate, prosecutable offence on top of the provisions in current law where an adult who causes or uses a child to commit a crime can generally be found guilty as the principal offender - meaning they can be punished as though they committed the crime themselves.
Welcoming this approval, Deputy Murnane O'Connor said, "My colleagues and I in Fianna Fáil are committed to building stronger, safer communities and breaking the link between gangs and the vulnerable young people they seek to recruit.
“This legislation is aimed at preventing criminal networks from exploiting children to commit crime.
“Criminal behaviour and conviction can alter the course of a child or person’s life – damaging employment, education, travel prospects, damaging social connections and overall leading to more negative life outcomes.
“This Bill will outlaw the grooming of children into crime by making it an offence for an adult to compel, coerce, direct or deceive a child for the purpose of engaging in criminal activity, or for an adult to induce, invite, aid, abet, counsel or procure a child to engage in criminal activity.
"It will send a strong message to communities that grooming children into criminal activity is not acceptable and can be tackled."