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Gardai say lax system allows sex offenders to hide here

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Sgt John Hynes: pivotal role in Roscommon abuse case.

Sgt John Hynes: pivotal role in Roscommon abuse case.

Sgt John Hynes: pivotal role in Roscommon abuse case.

CONVICTED sex offenders are able to avoid scrutiny due to weaknesses in the registration system, gardai believe.

Officers are demanding a clampdown on sex offenders so it will be easier to track their movements.

They are seeking changes in the law to force offenders to supply more personal information, including photographs, and to update their details regularly.

The move is expected to be given the backing of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, whose annual conference gets under way this evening in Ballymoney, Co Wexford.

The demand for a tightening of sex offender regulations is led by the Roscommon/Longford branch.

One of its members, Sgt John Hynes, was last year honoured by the association for his "excellent police work" which led to the conviction of the parents in the notorious Roscommon child abuse case.

Sgt Hynes later said he relied on his own wife, a former garda, to help him cope with the ordeal of interviewing the six children about the details of the abuse in order to get a successful court prosecution. The children's father was sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment.

Officers are pressing for sex offenders to provide more information, and at the district headquarters station in the area where the person lives, and not at any headquarters station, as the current legislation requires.

Gardai point out that an offender can sign the sex register at any station in the country and does not have to answer questions, or give any information about himself, apart from providing an address.

Database

Officers are also proposing that offenders should provide DNA samples for a new database, when it is created, and that the information be shared with other police forces when necessary.

They say the current lack of shared information makes it easier for offenders, who are convicted elsewhere, to come here and avoid detection.

The Westmeath branch also plans to call on Commissioner Martin Callinan to ensure there are no more station closures due to the negative effect of recent shutdowns on policing.

And Dublin North delegates believe the garda authorities should develop a national witness management strategy for criminal trials.

The call comes in the wake of the Collins family's recent move abroad from Limerick.

Their son Roy Collins was shot dead by gangsters after the family gave evidence against Wayne Dundon.

Irish Independent