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Oireachtas votes against Sex Offender’s registration amendment

Gardaí required to sift through 100s of emails.

The Dáil has refused to amend the Sex Offenders Bill 2021 after TD Denis Naughten highlighted “in excess of 70 breaches” annually arising from sex offenders failing to make themselves known to Gardaí.

The Bill allows sex offenders to register at any divisional Garda headquarters around the country instead of being required to register with local Garda stations. 

Naughten claimed the current situation was overly advantageous for sex offenders saying it “facilitates high-risk sex offenders going undetected by allowing them to contact any divisional headquarters”, adding that this “ puts the rights into the hands of the offender rather than the victim or future potential victims.”

Naughten said Garda in charge of monitoring sex offender data logs receive 100s of email updates and that the current centralised system put too much pressure on individual Gardaí

Addressing Minister for Justice Helen McEntee he said that the minister had stated “the inclusion of “any” divisional headquarters was to capture a situation where the sex offenders to be monitored were away from their local stations but that the intention of the legislation was to ensure that they would register at their local stations.”

 Adding, “She (McEntee) stated that she would consider making this clear in the Bill, but that has not happened.”

“We need to see such clarity being provided,” he said. 

McEntee replied that the bill was drafted to allow sex offenders to register at regional headquarters in order to ensure that “offenders are not limited to having to register at their local station.

 “By drafting the provision in this way,” she said, “a sex offender who regularly resides in Cork but who might by chance be in Donegal for three days can and will notify gardaí in Donegal that he or she is in the area.”

McEntee claimed there was  “nothing in the figures applying to this section to suggest there is significant non-compliance”. 

Naughten replied that, “What the Minister is saying to a convicted sex offender, who must be monitored and who poses a high risk in the community, is that he or she can go to any Garda station in the country, in Wexford town, for example, present there and tell the gardaí in that station that he or she is going to live in rural west Roscommon.”

He added that in that case the offender “will have complied with the law. The difficulty is that it will be the Garda members in Roscommon who will have seven days from that point to try to track down that individual and have him or her present himself or herself in the Garda station in Castlerea to provide his or her fingerprints and photographs.”

The amendment was rejected with 9 votes in favor and 118 against. 

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