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SF call for Dáil sitting to deal solely with sex offences legislation

6 June, 2006

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said this week's Dáil session should be used solely to deal with the wider issues around sex offences that could not be dealt with by last week's emergency legislation.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "Rushing legislation through the Dáil last week was a necessary step to deal with the Supreme Court ruling on the 1935 legislation. However, it was not possible, in what was essentially an emergency Bill, to deal with the wider issues. We are very concerned that if these issues are not also dealt with, we will compound the current situation whereby, for example, a 16-year-old boy who has consensual sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old girl is guilty of a crime. That position is untenable and we are seeking to have this and related issues addressed in law as soon as possible. To that end we have pressed for the debate on these issues and the necessary wider public consultation to commence this week. We should use the extra sitting this week solely for this purpose.

"The neglect of successive Governments has created the situation where legislation had to be rushed through last week. We need to ensure that what was enacted is but a first step, a temporary measure, pending more comprehensive and wide-ranging legislation. Sinn Féin proposed that sections of the legislation should not stand after 18 months unless a resolution has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas to continue that section. This is to ensure that the wider issues are provided for in legislation and the next 18 months should be used to debate the issues and prepare the legislation.

"This week's Dáil session should be set aside to deal solely with this issue. After all, the Government were forced into calling this week's sitting by the wave of protest that emerged after the release of Mr. A last week yet this issue is absent from the Dáil schedule. This is not good enough; it can't be just business as usual. There was a reason for calling this sitting of the Dáil and Sinn Féin is demanding that it be used to deal with this issue properly." ENDS

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