Report of the Joint Commission on Child Protection

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre today welcomed the Report of the Joint Commission on Child Protection, to which it had made a submission. In particular the DRCC supports the recommendation to provide absolute protection to children under 16 from the “defence of honest mistake as to age” Other wide-ranging recommendations were also commended in particular:

  • The creation of the new offences of child sexual abuse, grooming and trafficking
  • A range of changes to protect child witnesses
  • Use of soft information re. vetting and the sharing of information across jurisdictions regarding sex offenders
  • The provision of training and education to the police, judiciary and DPP’s office

There are over 60 recommendations, the general thrust of which is to create a more robust child protection system in Ireland.

However, the DRCC expressed grave concern that the Commission had recommended the lowering of the age of consent to sixteen. Angela McCarthy, Head of Clinical Services at the Centre said: “While the Report strengthens considerably the protection offered to young people under 16, it almost completely removed protection for those aged 16 to 17. We in the DRCC firmly believe that the age of consent should remain at 17, and this was an important part of our submission to the All Party Committee. We feel the lowering of the age of consent to 16 would be a retrograde step. It diminishes the protection and support that society should offer young people of 16. We note that this was one of the few issues where there was not consensus among the Commission members. In addition, the majority of submissions received by the Commission favoured the retention of 17 as the age of consent. We would like to see a national debate on this issue, which would consider all the arguments, in a calm and rational manner.

For further information please contact:
Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, CEO – 01 661 4911 / 086 809 9618

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