Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2018: Report and Final Stages

Amendment No. 1 is in the names of Deputies Clare Daly and Wallace. Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 are related and they will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, to delete lines 24 to 29, to delete pages 4 to 6, and in page 7, to delete lines 1 to 9.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2018 is an example of a broken legislative system and something about which we as legislators should be extremely concerned. This is the second time flawed legislation proposed by an Independent Alliance Deputy has been allowed progress through the Department of Justice and Equality. I hardly need to remind everyone of the disaster to which the Judicial Appointments Bill amounts. It appears that Fine Gael, historically the party of law and order, is prepared to allow its coalition partners propose flawed legislation in order to maintain their support.

The main goal of the Bill is to seek to impose presumptive minimum sentences for sexual offenders who have been convicted of sex offences and received a sentence of at least five years and who go on to commit another sexual offence within a further ten years. The Bill appears to have been proposed based on the concerns of a few particular constituents of Minister of State, and this amendment, which proposes to remove sections 4 and 5, will render the main goal of the Bill null and void. In fact, the Minister of State admitted that the genesis of the Bill came from his constituents, when he told the justice committee: "I have met victims and the purpose of bringing forward this legislation is based on the evidence put in front of me by these people". This is not the way legislation should be drafted, namely, to appease the concerns of constituents. I am not saying these constituents did not have valid concerns and while we should listen to our constituents, drafting primary legislation on the basis of concerns alone is not the answer. Legislation should be based on multiple issues, namely, empirical evidence and discussions with stakeholders, in this case, the courts, the Prison Service, victims, families of victims, offenders, counsellors, experts, etc.

I wish to discuss some of the reasons we are proposing this amendment. Section 4 appears to be based on two falsehoods. The first is that there is a high rate of recidivism by sexual offenders. In 2013, the Irish Prison Service conducted a study on recidivism which found that the offence groups with the lowest rates of reoffending were homicide at 26.2%, followed by sexual offences at 28.2%. While it is obvious that the rate of reoffending would be low in the cases of homicide, the reoffending rate for a sexual offender is also low compared with a crime like burglary where the reoffending rate stands at 79.5%. Has the Department of Justice and Equality in drafting this Bill conducted any up to date studies on the recidivism rates of sexual offenders?

The second basis for section 4 is that incarceration stops sexual offenders reoffending, with which we disagree. A US study from 2007 of 627 sexual offenders found that there was no evidence that the relationship between incarceration and recidivism was confounded or moderated by risk or the length of incarceration and that sentencing sexual offenders to terms of incarceration appears to have little, if any, impact on sexual and violent recidivism following release. Has the Department of Justice and Equality conducted similar studies on sexual offenders in Ireland? I am not sure if it has, but similar to the recidivism rate of sexual offenders, it is worrying that it appears that the Department has not done any analysis on this.

As mad as this sounds, section 4 will probably never be applied in the way the Minister hopes, as it gives the Judiciary a get-out clause, which I can only assume has been inserted at the behest of the somebody in the Attorney General's office, as they probably share the same concerns we have voiced. The get-out clause states: "Subsection (1) shall not apply where the court is satisfied that it would be disproportionate in all the circumstances of the case to specify as the minimum term of imprisonment to be served by the person concerned the term of imprisonment referred to in that subsection in respect of the subsequent offence." An identical get-out clause was included in section 5 of the Criminal Justice Act 1999 which sought to impose a mandatory ten-year sentence on anybody found guilty of possession of drugs valued above €13,000. The first thing the Judiciary did when sentencing under this Act was to go straight to the subsection which allowed it to use its discretion, and this has resulted in less than 10% of the convictions under this legislation amounting to the full ten-year sentence.

Instead of this Bill, we believe the Government would be better placed proposing legislation that makes it mandatory for sexual offenders to do therapy while in prison. Currently, there is a programme called Building Better Lives, however, although it is made available to all sex offenders in Ireland, it is voluntary, and it requires participants to admit the offence they caused and the harm done to victims before they can take part. Figures obtained by RTÉ’s John Burke before Christmas showed that the number of sex offenders who are being released from prison without having undergone the programme has increased. Out of 135 sex offenders who will be released this year, as few as 17 have taken part in the Building Better Lives programme. There are approximately 450 sex offenders currently in Irish prisons at any one time, yet it appears that the numbers taking part in the Building Better Lives programme are dropping year on year. In a reply to a parliamentary question in 2015, the former Minister, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, told the House that 136 sexual offenders were released from custody in 2014, and 29 participated in the Building Better Lives programme. There has been a decrease in the number of participants since then. This drop is worrying, particularly as the figures show that those who complete the Building Better Lives programme are less likely to re-offend. The head of the Irish Prison Service psychology service, Dr. Emma Black, told RTÉ that the recidivism rate for those treated under the Building Better Lives programme was much lower than those untreated. She said: "The recidivism rate for people who have undergone the treatment, over 15 years, is about 5.4%, compared with those untreated at about 19.6%.”

That is an amazing statistic and it raises the question as to why the Department does not consider making the Building Better Lives programme mandatory. The Minister, Deputy Flanagan, is on the record as saying that he is very keen to work closely with the Irish Prison Service on the issue. I understand that certain offenders refuse to admit their crimes. However, Dr. Black stated that the Irish Prison Service was now considering introducing a specialised treatment programme aimed specifically at so-called "categorical deniers" who refused to admit the sexual abuse they engaged in, or that it was harmful to their victims, and a business case has been put to the Department of Justice and Equality for additional resources on this issue.

If the Minister, Deputy Flanagan, and his Department want to properly address the issues surrounding sexual offences and recidivism, they should withdraw this Bill, and instead examine making programmes like the Building Better Lives mandatory for sexual offenders. As we know from the US study, incarceration alone does not stop recidivism.

It does not give me any pleasure to say that this is one of the worst pieces of legislation that has come before this Dáil. Our amendments deal with the removal of presumptive minimum sentences for repeat sexual offenders. The measures being put forward in the legislation do not act as a deterrent and will not in any way have an impact on reoffending. The Minister and everybody in the Department has admitted that in the discussions on the other Stages of this process. The best the Minister could wrestle with was to say that by putting forward this Bill, we are recognising the impact of sexual offences on the individual and on society and ensuring that appropriate measures are available to the Judiciary at sentencing to ensure that crimes can be dealt with appropriately and effectively.

The Judiciary already has such measures available to it. The Bill will not change that. It does not confer any new or stronger powers. If or, presumably, when this Bill passes, the Judiciary will have exactly the same sentencing powers and discretion as at present. Nothing will change in that regard.

Before I go further in dealing with this amendment, it goes without saying that I agree that sexual crimes are some of the worst crimes in our society. Their awfulness is compounded by the situation of decades of relative impunity for sexual offenders, regardless of whether that was because the perpetrators were priests, the result of the State's attitude towards women or whatever. I understand the desire to ensure that sanctions for such offences are as serious as they should be but this Bill does not do that. The prevention of sexual offences, let alone repeat sexual offences, cannot be dealt with lightly by simply imposing longer prison sentences. This matter is certainly too complicated to be dealt with via mandatory or presumptive minimum sentencing.

I wholeheartedly agree that we have a significant problem with sexual violence and with how our criminal justice deals with it, including by means of sentencing. This Bill will not address any of that. It will not deter sexual offenders. This is the worst type of politics for which this Dáil has been responsible. The Government has done nothing about the real issues relating to sexual violence and has come up with a Bill which the Minister admits will not do anything but which makes a contribution in the context of people feeling good that we are doing something about this horrible problem. It flies in the face of evidence-based policy and legislation. For years, organisations such as the Law Reform Commission, the Irish Penal Reform Trust, IPRT, etc., have provided evidence which shows that presumptive or mandatory minimum sentences for any crime are not an effective deterrent. While it might feel like they are, the evidence says that they are not. They are particularly not a deterrent in cases of sexual violence. As Deputy Wallace indicated, the evidence in the context of repeat offending, which is all that this Bill deals with, is that there is even less of an impact.

Between 2011 and 2013, the Law Reform Commission compiled a consultation and a report comprising 457 pages between them and, ultimately, recommended that existing presumptive sentencing regimes should be repealed and that no new ones should be introduced, yet here we are. In 2014, the strategic review of penal policy also contained clear recommendations to the effect that no new presumptive sentencing schemes should be introduced. Its membership included the Department of Justice and Equality, the Garda Síochána, IPRT, victims and probation services. It is not exactly fringe politics. People at the coalface who deal with these issues recommended that no more presumptive minimum sentencing regimes should be introduced. However, the Minister is bringing in exactly that and he admitted on Committee Stage that it will have no impact because, as Deputy Wallace stated, judges can do what they like in any event.

While the Minister is ignoring that, the Judicial Council Bill is floundering in the Seanad. The latter could deal with the one or two individuals in our Judiciary who have shown themselves not to be up to the task with which they have been charged. That legislation is languishing in the Upper House. We know from our experience with the Coroners (Amendment) Bill how difficult it is to see legislation through. We are dealing with this nonsense, which will not have any impact, when we could have used the resources for the Bill to which I refer. This is the worst type of politics. We know that, sadly, Sinn Féin cut a deal with the Government regarding the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill in return for proper sentencing guidelines. Proper sentencing guidelines are something the Judiciary could do with and we could deal with them here but we are not doing so because we are playing a game to keep this Government on the road. It is a disgrace.

Apart from that general point, let us look at the actual text. Any Deputy who votes for this and does not support our amendment obviously has not read the text because we have an eye-wateringly complicated formula for calculating minimum sentences and to whom they should apply. It is arbitrary. It is states here that if someone commits a sexual offence that carries a sentence of five years and then commits another sexual offence within ten years of conviction, then a presumptive minimum applies. What if the offender rapes somebody ten years and five days after the first offence? Are we sending a signal to the victim that the violent assault on her is less serious than would be the case if it happened five days earlier? That is ridiculous. The Minister could not reply to any of the points about how he even came up with that mad logic. It is reprehensible. The blunt instrument of legislation cannot deal with the nuances. The irony is that, on Committee Stage, Deputy O'Callaghan provided a well-articulated analysis of how rubbish this Bill is but with the confidence and supply agreement dictates that he must go along with it anyway. As long as we continue this type of nonsense, we will go nowhere and victims will not get justice.

I do not sit on the relevant committee but I have read the proposed legislation and I thank the Oireachtas Library and Research Service for its digest on it. I suggest that the Minister read the latter. If he does so, he will come across exactly what my colleagues have just said regarding the evidence on maximum sentences for repeat offenders. The jury is out. Like my colleagues and in view of my background, what upsets me most is the absolute failure to deal with sexual violence. Since I was elected to the Dáil, my colleagues and I have repeatedly asked for the Government to deal with sexual violence. We have asked for a basic updated sexual abuse and violence in Ireland, SAVI, report. We know domestic violence alone costs the economy €2.5 billion a year and that sexual crime goes unreported. Most women and men do not come forward. There is another Minister sitting beside the Minister for Justice and Equality who is very sensible and I recommend that she read the digest relating to the Bill.

One could not possibly go through with this. It is an illusion that something is being done about violence in Ireland when the complete opposite is being done. It reinforces stereotypes that packing somebody off to prison without treatment and saying that a minimum sentence with a further minimum sentence is the way to treat them. We know that is not the way and the Minister knows it. He has enough legal experts with him to tell him this is not true and the ordinary person in the street will tell him that. He is feeding into stereotypes. This Bill was ostensibly brought in following the dreadful case in Roscommon whereby children were neglected and abused. The latter was one of the rare occasions on which a woman was found guilty of incest. I understand that this legislation started out as a way to deal with the anomaly in law where a man is subject to a maximum of life imprisonment for such an offence whereas a much lesser sentence applied in the case of a woman. This is designed to get rid of that anomaly. We are ignoring that incest between consenting adults is a moral issue but we are criminalising it when it is unnecessary. I do not like it but it is in the guise of protecting children.

The Minister has repeatedly used Tom O'Malley as a recognised scholar of law and he has repeatedly asked what is proposed is necessary. Other countries have not criminalised incest between consenting adults. I find it repugnant but it is not necessarily something we should criminalise. Doing it in the guise of protecting children is appalling. I asked about this during Leaders' Questions on one occasion. I will ask again with regard to three children who were unprotected. I am addressing both the Minister for Justice and Equality and Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection in this regard. There was a recent case in the follow-up from Tuam where three young children under the protection of the HSE were repeatedly raped when they were in care.

That is bad enough, but accountability for this is nowhere to be seen. The matter has gone to an independent review panel. I and other Deputies have raised it in the House only to be told the panel is independent and we cannot put questions to it. We can ask the Charleton tribunal when it will report, we can ask the mother and baby tribunal what is happening with it and when it will report, but apparently we cannot ask the independent review panel why it has not reported on three young children who were systematically raped while under the protection of the HSE and in care. I will not go into the details. We all know them.

Those of us who are women sit here and ask if we are protecting children. We certainly are not. We are all party to that failure to a certain extent - some of us more than others. The Government has the power to do something about this namely, giving Tusla proper resources and putting in place proper management structures within that organisation. Later, we will debate legislation relating to the HSE. The latter lacks a board - the last one was disbanded in 2012 as a temporary measure - and has been seeking to provide care in the absence of accountability on the part of management. It is 2019 and there is still no board in place to hold management to account. The good work Tusla and HIQA are doing has been highlighted, but the lack of governance has also been highlighted. The Charleton report recently put the focus absolutely on Tusla and the HSE in the context of the absence of governance and the role of the Garda.

Why am I mentioning all this in the context of this legislation? It is because this is an illusion, and that is putting it mildly. I hope Sinn Féin will not support the legislation. If it does, it will be buying into the hypocrisy that is going on in the attempts to please one or two Independent Members. If we are seriously interested in protecting children, this is not the way to do it. I ask for sense to prevail. Let us work together because the protection of children is above and beyond politics. What is proposed here is certainly not the way to proceed. If Fianna Fáil supports this, it will be truly disgraceful on its part to buy into this kind of game.

There are a number of elements to this. First, I wish to draw a distinction between mandatory and presumptive minimum sentences. Sinn Féin is opposed to mandatory minimum sentences. They are an extremely blunt instrument and in many instances have increased incarceration rates enormously , particularly those relating to members of the African-American community. They were used by various American states to such an extent that it led to the mass incarceration of young black men. Mandatory minimum sentencing takes away any judicial discretion or ability to judge and ascertain. Presumptive minimum sentences are a different animal but they should be used advisedly. That said, what is outlined in this legislation is in close accordance with what one would imagine to be a sensible sentencing approach by a judge while also keeping in place what has been described by Tom O'Malley in Sentencing Law and Practice as a significant safety valve where it applies to the Criminal Justice Act 2007. It makes sense to have a similar provision here. It retains judicial discretion. I listened to the points that were made and I continue to take them on board. I will not support the amendments as currently proposed but I will engage with our Senators in this regard.

I am more than a little disappointed that the Minister, who was present, has absented himself because I had an issue I wanted him to address, namely, the concern I have about this Bill. With due respect to the Minister of State, Deputy Moran - perhaps he can attempt to address the matter again - I was not entirely satisfied with his response to the point I raised. I was anxious to hear the Minister's point of view on this. I hope he will attend and speak in the Seanad debate because it is important. This is a criminal justice Bill, and it is not right that he should not contribute to the debate. I appreciate that this is the Minister of State's initiative but the Minister has a responsibility to make his statement on it. My concern - and I hope the Minister of State will address this, but again I will ask the Minister to do so as well - is that this sentencing approach may create a disincentive for the accused to plead guilty, which is a fairly weighty issue. If this takes away the incentive for the accused to relieve the victim of the trauma and pressure and everything else involved in a sexual assault or rape case, that is a deficiency. Certainly, if that is not addressed, we may reconsider our position on these sections.

I am only here to lend my support to the Bill. I was not present for the debates on any of the other Stages of the Bill. I was interested to hear the comments that have been made. I am quite surprised by them because, with no disrespect to any of our esteemed judges intended, week in and week out cases are raised - either in this House or in the media - and shock, surprise and disgust are expressed at some of the sentences handed down, particularly in the context of their leniency in cases involving sexual violence. In the main, such cases involve women but, obviously, there are those who also relate to children.

This Bill may not be perfect and it may not address the various issues relating to sexual violence and the protection of our children, women and vulnerable men, but it is certainly a bloody good start. The key is to send a message out to the victims of these heinous crimes, including repeat crimes, that we hear them and will start to do something about them. On this basis, I applaud the Minister of State for having the gumption to address this issue in his own capacity and for having got the support not least of the Department of Justice and Equality, but also from the rest of the governing parties. Consequently, I support the Bill. I have read it and I very much welcome it as a start, but a good one, in addressing this issue. I believe - and very many women in this country share my views - that some of the sentences handed down for some of the most heinous crimes against women and children are far too lenient. In the first instance, the Bill will address this.

I am contributing to this debate on behalf of my colleague, Deputy O'Callaghan. Fianna Fáil supports the Bill. I respect what the Minister of State is trying to do, namely, create a more stringent sentencing regime for repeat offenders. There is a concern, as the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Affairs, Deputy Doherty, indicated, regarding the leniency of sentences that have been handed down. However, we must also listen to some of the points that have been made. I will address them in a moment.

Members of the public are rightfully disgusted and angered by some of the headlines they see whereby victims are devastated by the lenient sentences we see. This Bill seeks to address this to some degree. As Deputy Wallace mentioned, however, in section 4 of the Bill a kind of complex scheme is proposed and then it is also stated that there is full judicial discretion which would cancel out the intent of the Bill. Will the Minister of State - or perhaps the Minister for Justice and Equality if he returns to the Chamber - indicate what else is the Government doing to address properly the sentencing issue? We obviously have an issue in this regard, but we would like to see the Government address its failure to establish a sentencing commission. This would address the huge inconsistencies we see handed down in many cases of this nature. In April 2018, Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh described the lack of sentencing guidelines as somewhat bizarre. She specifically pointed to the fact that while there was a lot of authority as to general sentencing principles, there was very little in the way of actual figures to guide her in these decisions. In 2013, my party published a Bill to establish a judicial sentencing commission that would prepare proper sentencing guidelines. Other parties have, I believe, published similar Bills.

Despite the Government paying lip-service in many instances, it has repeatedly failed to progress that legislation. I would like clarity from the Minister on the contradiction in section 4. We are supporting the Bill but I would like to hear more from Government regarding what it plans to do about a sentencing commission and addressing this in a more wholehearted way because that would address some of the concerns the Judiciary has mentioned in its statements.

I thank the Deputies for their contributions. I acknowledge the presence of Debbie Cole in the Gallery. She has been campaigning for legislation on this for 20 years.

As they did on Committee Stage, Deputies Clare Daly and Wallace have opposed sections 4 and 5. The Government is not proposing any amendments to the Bill and is therefore opposing the proposed amendments. Sections 4 and 5 constitute the core of the Bill. They set out the presumptive minimum sentence to apply to repeat sex offenders under certain circumstances. The presumptive minimum sentence is three quarters of the maximum sentence applied to the offence. It will apply where a person has been convicted of a sexual offence and received a sentence of imprisonment of five years and goes on to commit another offence within ten years. The Judiciary is independent in its manner of sentencing. A trial judge can take into account all circumstances of a case and impose a sentence that is proportionate to the offence and the offender. The Oireachtas, however, is entitled to set out parameters for given offences to reflect what is considered to be a serious occurrence of that offence.

While, as the Deputies stated, concerns have been raised about the use of mandatory minimum sentences, they are nonetheless considered appropriate for serious crimes. We are all aware of the devastating impact serious sexual offences can have on victims and on society as a whole. That is why the Government is proposing to put these measures in place. These provisions have been carefully framed to ensure that they are proportionate. A presumptive mandatory sentence only applies where a person has received a sentence of five years or more. This ensures that the provision only applies to the most serious crimes. A judge may impose a sentence where imposing the minimum would be disproportionate in all the circumstances of the case. This is an important clause to consider and is incredibly valuable as it ensures that the introduction of such a sentence can be done only in a case where it is deemed necessary and proportionate to the crime committed and the risk the offender poses to the public. Given the relatively limited application of the Bill to a small cohort of offenders, that provision does not exclude judicial direction in sentencing. I suggest that it in no way minimises the principle of rehabilitation of offenders which is managed by the Irish Prison Service and the probation service pre and post release from imprisonment.

In addressing Deputy Wallace's concerns, I know that many sex offenders have become rehabilitated but that a small number of those go on to reoffend. I remind my Independent colleagues across the Chamber who have come out so strongly against this that they are purporting to be experts in the field. Some years ago, they had the opportunity to sit where I am and bring forward good legislation. They failed to do so. They went off to the sun and forgot what it is like to help people like Debbie Cole and all those like her who have been fighting for 20 years for this Bill. While they sit there and say they have everything right this Government is recognising the Debbie Coles of this country by putting forward this legislation.

Deputy Ó Laoghaire asked a question and I thank him for his support on Committee Stage. Some of his amendments were ruled out of order. He asked whether the provision might act as a disincentive for a defendant to plead guilty. The provisions do not provide for the sentence where the court is satisfied that it would be disproportionate in all circumstances to impose the minimum sentence. That the defendant has pleaded guilty might be taken into account

I accept Deputy Jack Chambers' point on sentencing guidelines. They obviously constitute a rational approach. However, tying the hands of judges is not rational and is not the route the State should be taking. It is important that we get the selection of judges right. If we select them, we must trust them to do their work as they see fit, otherwise it will be a bit of a dog's dinner. We are told that this is about sending a message but that is the legislative equivalent of liking something on Facebook. It is an empty gesture.

I find this matter scandalous. If the Government really wanted to send a message about sexual violence would it not expedite a new SAVI report? Will it increase funding for women's groups, women's shelters and rape crisis organisations, which have been decimated since 2011? That would send a message. As Deputy Clare Daly said, Deputy O'Callaghan's Committee Stage contribution was absolutely excellent. He tore the Bill to bits. I find it interesting that he did not come to the House tonight. He will probably have to come in and vote for the Bill under the confidence and supply arrangement. He is a barrister and knows the legal system better than the rest of us. The manner in which he took the legislation apart was very interesting.

I find this discussion utterly demoralising and one of the worst reflections on this House I have witnessed. There is a massive problem in how our society deals with sexual crime in our criminal justice system, from inconsistent sentencing to traumatising victims by putting them on trial, by the trial through the court process and our pathetic conviction rates for sexual crimes, not to mention the broader cultural issues regarding consent. Nothing in this Bill addresses any of those matters. I am sorry to inform the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection that it is not a first step. The Bill is not going to achieve its aim. Even if we are generous and ignore the convoluted formula that applies in the Bill and state that it is sending a signal, we must ask what type of signal we are sending. When the suspended portion of a sentence - perhaps in instances which are the worst part of the initial sentence - is discounted for the calculation of the formula, the message being signalled is that if the offenders got away with it first time, they are not going to be subjected to this formula the second time around. That is an appalling message. The message being sent is that nothing is changing and that legislation in this House will be dealt with in a reactive, knee-jerk, emotional and tabloid-led way and not on the basis of the evidence available . That is really scary.

We commissioned a great deal of research on the Law Reform Commission's sentencing guidelines, etc. The experts in the relevant fields, including representatives of victims' groups, told us not to go down the road of introducing any more presumptive minimum sentencing regimes because they do not work and the evidence does not support them. Yet here we are doing exactly that. If the signal is to be so disrespectful to the victims of sexual crime by pretending to be doing something that will address their concerns, I do not want to be part of the pretence.

While I will vote in a different way from the proposers of the amendments, it is unfortunate there is almost an implication that their motivations are not fair or high-minded or that they are not people with a very strong track record of raising issues of sexual violence and fairness in our courts. It is the case and they are entirely entitled to bring forward amendments. Their motivations are just as right and honourable as those of the Minister of State. We should not be unfair. It is important to have an adult discussion about the implications of criminal justice legislation even in the context of such an emotive issue as this.

I am not entirely reassured by the Minister of State's response. I understand it but it would be still the case that if a lawyer is consulting with an accused, he or she would not know if the judge would take a guilty plea into account at the very end and lawyers might not, as they currently do, advise it is in the accused's interest to plead guilty. I am not sure the Minister of State has addressed that issue. I am anxious to hear what the Minister for Justice and Equality has to say on it and I hope he will speak on the debate.

Deputy Wallace spoke about this being a rubbish Bill. He is mumbling on and the only thing he keeps bringing up is Deputy Jim O'Callaghan. Deputy O'Callaghan supported the Bill on Committee Stage which is why it is here in the House today. I am mystified as to how Deputy Clare Daly, who has been a champion for women's causes all her political life, chooses to oppose a Bill that seeks to protect people, particularly women and children, from serious sex offenders.

Because it does not.

I remind the Deputy that she criticised many Ministers on a local flooding issue in her area in Portrane, and when I told the Deputy-----

The Minister of State should speak to the Bill.

The Deputies went off their amendments as well.

I am listening. I will be the judge of that.

I went up to Portrane and sorted out people in the Deputy's constituency. I looked after ordinary people. That is what the Bill is about. It is about looking after the Debbie Coles of the world who have been campaigning for this legislation for 20 years. I am astounded by some of the Deputies who have spent so long in the House and have not brought forward any decent legislation.

Deputy Wallace moved the amendment.

Is this the last contribution? Are we finishing?

The only person who has a third opportunity to contribute is the Member who moved the amendment and that is Deputy Wallace. If he does not wish to contribute, we will move on.

I cannot speak.

Deputy Wallace will speak.

We were very disappointed. We think this is a sham and we have said so. Obviously, we are not supposed to say those things in here. We get attacked for saying them but we are kind of used to that rubbish. We oppose what is going on here. It is ridiculous.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 7; Níl, 93; Staon, 0.

  • Collins, Joan.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Brady, John.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace; Níl, Deputies Seán Kyne and Tony McLoughlin.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 7, to delete lines 10 to 37, and in page 8, to delete lines 1 to 31.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 9; Níl, 90; Staon, 0.

  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Brady, John.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace; Níl, Deputies Seán Kyne and Tony McLoughlin.
Amendment declared lost.
Bill received for final consideration.
Question put: "That the Bill do now pass."

Will the Deputies claiming a division please rise?

Deputies Michael Collins, Catherine Connolly, Clare Daly, Michael Harty, Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Healy-Rae, Mattie McGrath, Thomas Pringle and Mick Wallace rose.

As fewer than ten Deputies have risen, I declare the question carried. The names of the Deputies dissenting will be recorded in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Dáil.

Question declared carried.

The Bill will now be sent to Seanad Éireann.