Thursday 18 July 2019

Under-18s should not have access to online porn, Varadkar says

Leo Varadkar said the internet had changed everything and children needed to be protected.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said under-18s should not have access to online porn (Liam McBurney/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said under-18s should not have access to online porn (Liam McBurney/PA)

By Michelle Devane and Harriet Line, Press Association  

People under the age of 18 should not be allowed access to pornographic material online, the Taoisaech has said.

Speaking in Brussels, Leo Varadkar said the internet had changed everything and children needed to be protected.

His comments came as the Government came under pressure in the Dail to introduce new laws on online safety following the murder of teenager Ana Kriegel.

Asked whether under-18s should have access to online porn, Mr Varadkar said: “I don’t think they should. If you go back to the past, when it came to pornographic magazines, it wasn’t possible to sell them to under-18s.

“The internet has changed everything in that regard. Minors shouldn’t have access to pornography online. For adults it’s their own business, but with children it’s different. We need to protect them.”

He said Ireland would be considering whether the UK’s new laws controlling access to online pornography are effective.

It’s quicker to elect a pope very often than it is to fill these particular positions. Leo Varadkar

“We always have to ask ourselves two questions. One, is it going to be effective? And two, could there be unintended consequences?” he said.

Asked whether it was necessary to establish a new Oireachtas committee to consider the issue, Mr Varadkar said there were already a large number of committees in existence.

The Taoiseach made the comments on his arrival at an EU Council summit on Thursday where EU leaders are considering who to elect to the positions of EU Council president and EU Commission president.

He said it would be quicker to elect a pope than for European Union leaders to make a decision on who should take the EU’s top roles.

Mr Varadkar predicted that another EU summit may need to be held before agreement was reached.

“The sense I have is that we won’t be in a position to elect a new Commission president or a new Council president today and the likelihood is that we will have to have another summit at the end of June or in early July,” he said.

“That’s not all that unusual in the European political process, sometimes it takes a few rounds – it’s quicker to elect a pope very often than it is to fill these particular positions.”

Mr Varadkar reiterated his Government’s backing for German MEP Manfred Weber for the role of head of the European Commission.

He also reiterated that the Withdrawal Agreement was not open for renegotiation.

He added that any new British prime minister seeking to delay Brexit beyond the end of October would face “enormous hostility” from the European Union.

PA Media

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section