Monday 14 October 2019

Under-18s should not have access to online pornography – Taoiseach

Ana Kriegel
Ana Kriegel
John Downing

John Downing

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has insisted that people aged under 18 years must not have access to online pornography.

Mr Varadkar’s comments come in the wake of the Ana Kriegel murder case and widespread calls to review laws governing online material.

As he arrived at an EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, the Taoiseach was asked if he believed people aged under-18 should have access to online pornography.

"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," Mr Varadkar told reporters.

"Minors should not have access to pornography online. For adults, it’s their own business – but for children it’s different," he added.

Mr Varadkar said the UK was the first country to introduce anti-pornography controls on various social media platforms. He said the Justice Minister will now approach the UK authorities to see how it has worked after one year in operation.

"We always have to ask ourselves two questions. One, is it going to be effective? And two, could there be unintended consequences?" the Taoiseach added.

Mr Varadkar also said he felt there was little need to establish a new Oireachtas committee to assess this issue. There was already a large number of committees and this issue could be dealt with by the communications committee.

The Taoiseach was arriving at a two-day EU leaders’ summit tasked with picking replacements for four key jobs, including that of Commission President Jean Claude Juncker. He said he thought it would take another special leaders’ summit to unblock that issue.

Mr Varadkar also said leaders of the European People’s Party, to which Fine Gael is allied, expressed continuing solidarity with Ireland over Brexit. He said the UK’s change of Prime Minister does not mean the Withdrawal Agreement concluded by Theresa May can be re-opened.

The Taoiseach said the idea of extending Brexit beyond the October 31 deadline would face considerable hostility among other EU governments.

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