The Government should tighten up laws to end the practice of arranged or forced marriages involving young girls, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection Geoffrey Shannon said.
While prominence and awareness of forced marriages in Ireland may be of relatively recent origin, the existence of this issue has been present in Ireland for some time, he told the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children.
"Anecdotal evidence exists of arranged or forced marriages in Ireland in past generations, but the influx of persons from other countries and practising different beliefs has given rise to the need for greater vigilance in recent times.
"Such a case came before the Irish High Court in 2013, however Irish law does not address the issue.
"This is an evident lacuna in our legal system that gives rise to child protection and welfare concerns in circumstances where the subject of a forced marriage is under 18 years of age," he said.
"It needs to be addressed without delay.
"Consideration of the position in England and Wales ought to form the starting point to addressing this issue."