Loophole makes Sex Offenders Register meaningless Galway TD says

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Failures in Irish law make the Sex Offenders Registry “meaningless” at keeping track of convicted offenders Galway TD Denis Naughten has said.

Deputy Naughten said that, since 2009, there has been a failure to update the notification requirements for the Register, with dangerous implications for vulnerable children.

Under the Sex Offenders Act of 2001, people placed on the sex offenders register have seven days to inform Gardaí of their address, and any change to it, or their place of residence if arriving in the state.

This also applies to people from abroad on their own national registry who are arriving in Ireland.

This time period leaves Ireland open to abuse to abuse by convicted offenders who can travel to and within the country without alerting Gardaí, Denis Naughten said.

Gardaí detected 76 breaches of the Act in the 12 months up to October of this year.

In 2009, then Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said that he planned to reduce that seven day period down to three days to bring Ireland’s law in line with neighbouring jurisdictions.

Denis Naughten said this loophole has still not been closed, and that while the notification requirement applies “in theory” to people convicted in other jurisdictions, it relies on them being flagged at passport control.

“There have already been a number of instances where dangerous sex offenders wanted by the police in either Northern Ireland or Britain were subsequently located in the Republic.”

He said that the 2001 Act urgently needs to be reformed, and that the sex offenders register is “currently meaningless” without that reform.

“The failure to close this loophole could have catastrophic implications for vulnerable children, particularly with up to 500 convicted sex offenders having gone missing in the UK.”

In response to a question by Deputy Naughten, Minister of State and Galway TD Hildegarde Naughton said that the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill 2018 has completed drafting, and will be presented for approval to publish in the coming weeks.

“As the Deputy will be aware, the purpose of the Bill is to enhance current systems for the assessment and management of convicted sex offenders and to put those systems on a statutory footing.”

This bill would reduce that seven day period within which convicted offenders must notify their name and address, down to three days.