Law to be tightened on rapists
CONVICTED sex offenders such as Larry Murphy will have to inform gardai of their location in less than the seven days currently demanded, under new laws being planned.
Under the present system, those released after serving time for sex offences do not need to provide gardai with their new address for a week.
But Justice Minister Dermot Ahern is seeking to reduce this.
"I am currently looking at the possibility of reducing this seven-day period and when my consideration is completed I will be bringing my proposals to Government," he said in response to Dail questions.
It has emerged that gardai are set to visit Murphy -- who was freed from Arbour Hill Prison yesterday -- once a month.
However, they do not have the resources to watch him on a round-the-clock basis.
Murphy will be obliged to notify the gardai if he is leaving the country for more than seven days and to provide an address where he will stay.
Although it is not known where Murphy will be staying, the Department of Justice gave €85,000 last year to the 'New Directions' project, which provides accommodation for high-risk sex offenders.
It has so far supported six such sex offenders and is run jointly by the gardai and the Probation Service.
One of those housed was serial rapist Michael Murray, who was given a rented apartment in Dublin.
The Department of Justice will not comment on individual cases under the project.
Labour Women chair Katherine Dunne called for the amendment of the Sex Offenders Act 2001 to strengthen the monitoring of offenders.
"Monitoring released sex offenders lessens hysteria and also gives the offender an opportunity to say, 'I will not reoffend because I cannot do so, so let me get on with my life,'" she said.
But there is little prospect of Murphy being electronically tagged because the existing legislation only allows for the potential tagging of sex offenders on temporary release.
Fine Gael Wicklow TD Billy Timmins said yesterday that the release of Murphy had highlighted the need for electronic tagging.
However, Dr Mary Rogan of the Irish Penal Reform Trust told Newstalk 106 that tagging could never be a substitute for rehabilitation.