The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality welcomed the passage of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 through both Houses of the Oireachtas.
Speaking on Tuesday 14th February, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said that "this is one of the most comprehensive and wide ranging piece of sexual offences legislation ever to be introduced and has been a priority for me as Minister for Justice and Equality".
"It is an essential piece of legislation that brings additional protections to some of the most vulnerable people in our community", she continued.
The Bill contains new criminal offences to protect children against grooming, provisions maintaining the age of consent to sexual activity at 17 years of age and for a new “proximity of age” defence and newly strengthened offences to tackle child pornography.
The provisions of the bill also includes measures regarding evidence by victims (children, in particular), harassment orders to protect victims of convicted sex offenders and the criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services.
Further commenting on the Bill, the Tánaiste explained that "the provisions of this Bill enhance and update laws to combat the sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children".
"It widens the range of offences associated with child pornography to ensure that no one who participates in any way in the creation, distribution, viewing or sharing of such abhorrent material can escape the law", she continued.
"Also, the Bill provides greater clarity in relation to the definition of sexual consent for the first time."
This Bill brings Irish law into line with a number of international legal instruments and implements the recommendations of a number of Oireachtas committees.
‘Remember. Before you get involved, ask yourself if it’s safe and legal to intervene. If the situation is already violent or looks like its escalating quickly, don’t directly intervene. Call the Gardaí on 999.
The only effective bystander intervention is a non-violent one. If you see or suspect domestic abuse in Dublin (change to suit region) visit www.whatwouldyoudo.ie or call 999.’