This very important legislation would not have come about if it had not been for the Minister of State, Deputy Moran. It is a fantastic example of a citizen who has an issue approaching a public representative, such as a Member of the Houses. It proves that it does happen and we can make a difference. It sends a message to people out there who might be cynical about politics, and to young people who aspire to be politicians. Today proves that one can make a difference if one becomes a Member of the national Parliament and introduces a Private Members' Bill which becomes the law of the land. When President Higgins signs the Bill into law, the Minister of State can be very proud of what he has achieved.
Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages
I reiterate what has been said by my colleague. I commend the Minister of State on the passing of this legislation. We expressed some minor concerns about it and we believe we can go even further in terms of sentencing guidelines around this issue and other, broader issues. There are some anomalies, to which I referred at earlier stages of the debate, around the law on incest, which probably require further consideration. We have supported the Bill and my colleague, Deputy Ó Laoghaire, has worked constructively with the Minister of State and others on it. It is important legislation, particularly when one considers the heinous nature of the crimes with which it seeks to deal. Comhghairdeas agus maith thú.
I thank all Senators for the warm welcome that the Bill has received in this House and I am deeply honoured that it has now passed all Stages in the Oireachtas. As I mentioned on the previous occasion, I was honoured to be elected as an Independent Deputy some three years ago to represent the people of Longford-Westmeath and to go into Government. Throughout my political life, I have tried to make a difference to the lives of ordinary people and make them a little bit better. It is a rather simple philosophy of mine but I think I have achieved a lot by sticking to that ideal. The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2018 is part of my efforts to help people, in this case, to send out a clear message from Government regarding repeat serial sex offenders who have refused all efforts to rehabilitate themselves.
While it is rare that an Independent Deputy can champion legislation through the Dáil and Seanad - I believe I may be the first to do so - it is even rarer still to have such legislation pass through both Houses with the support of all the main political parties. I also received very good news yesterday in respect of the other Bill that I have campaigned for in government, which addresses those in mortgage arrears and, I understand, this will soon advance to the next Stage.
I thank the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, and his officials for their strong support throughout for this Bill and for seeing the merits in what I have been trying to achieve. I have shown to the people that Independents can, and do, make a difference in government. I thank all Senators for their support and for the clear passage they have given this Bill. It means a great deal to an awful lot of people who have been campaigning for this for many years. Senator Conway is right that people are cynical about politicians but when we sit down and work together, it is amazing what we can achieve. The likes of Debbie Coll are the real champions of this. They have been lobbying hard for this Bill and having it signed into law is a great achievement, for me as a new Member of the House and for Debbie, who has pursued it.
I congratulate the Minister of State on this achievement and I wish him well with his other Bill.