"That, pursuant to Standing Order 198, the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill 2018, which lapsed on the dissolution of the 32nd Dáil,shall be restored to the Order Paper at Order for Committee Stage."
This Bill seeks to regulate and restrict, where appropriate, convicted sex offenders from travelling abroad in the interests of the common good to protect people outside the State from serious harm. It seeks to amend the Sex Offenders Act 2001 and to provide for related matters.
First, I want to acknowledge the efforts of former Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan, who introduced this Bill in 2018. I would also like to thank and acknowledge the work of Fr. Shay Cullen and Gráinne Kenny of PREDA Foundation for their support of this Bill. Fr. Shay has a distinguished record of working with women and children in the Philippines to protect them from sex slavery and exploitation. As he is a native of my own constituency, I bestowed a civic award on him for his work in the Philippines in 2017. I also thank and acknowledge the great work of Gráinne Kenny, who is also from my constituency, for her active work, support and encouragement on this Bill. Gráinne is a board member of the PREDA Foundation. She has worked with communities and internationally for decades to counter the impact of drugs and exploitation of women and children.
It is fitting that this Bill is restored today after the annual EU anti-trafficking day yesterday. This Bill will give judges powers to restrict foreign travel entirely or to require an application to be made to the court for permission to travel. Currently, sex offenders must notify the Garda if they intend to travel outside the jurisdiction for more than seven days.
This works well where there is good co-operation between police forces and high child protection standards, such as, for example, in the North, the UK or across the EU. Issues arise where countries do not have high child protection standards. I understand Australia has introduced similar legislation.
I thank my colleagues, Deputies Niamh Smyth and Lawless, for their support for the Bill, as well as Senator Gallagher. I look forward to working with colleagues to get the legislation passed.