Monday 14 October 2019

Ana Kriegel murder: new laws restricting access to pornography to be considered in wake of trial

Taoiseach tells the Dail the government is examining new online safety measures

Ana Kriegel (Photo: RTE)
Ana Kriegel (Photo: RTE)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

NEW laws to restrict the access to pornography are to be considered in the wake of the Ana Kriegel murder trial.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil that "all our hearts go out to the parents of the young woman who was killed, and also the parents of the two boys as well".

He was responding to questions about the Government’s plans to clampdown on the ease with which young people can access pornography online.

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin described the murder of Ana Kriegel as “horrific”. He noted that one of the two boys convicted of murder is reported to have had two mobile phones “full of pornographic images”.

“His internet searches in previous years are reported to have included child pornography and animal pornography,” Mr Howlin said.

The TD said it would be “up to professionals to assess the impact of such material on impressionable children” – but legislators needed to draw their own conclusions from the trial.

“We can clearly and unambiguously say this material should not be accessible to children.”

Mr Howlin asked whether Ireland should consider following a UK plan to block pornographic material until an internet user first provides proof that they are over 18 years of age.

Websites that refuse to implement robust age verification checks face being blocked by UK internet service providers or having their access to payment services withdrawn.

The Taoiseach said he was aware of the new approach in the UK which takes effect next month.

“It is a concern that pornography is so accessible to young people. And indeed so many young people learn about sex through pornography which is not an accurate representation of what is healthy in life,” Mr Varadkar said.

“The UK law is relatively new. We don’t know yet if it will be successful.”

He suggested that after a year of the UK system’s implementation, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan would seek a report from his counterparts in London “on whether this has been effective or if there have been unintended consequences”.

Mr Varadkar noted that the Government is already in the process of bringing forward an online safety bill.

“That will put new requirements on online platforms including an online safety code. It will also prohibit the cyber bullying of minors and harmful material that promotes suicide, self harm and bulimia and anorexia. There will be an online safety commissioner,” he said.

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