ANYONE found guilty of 'grooming' a child for prostitution faces up to 14 years in jail.
A draft new law published yesterday aims to strengthen existing protections against child sexual exploitation and makes luring a child into the sex industry a specific crime.
The bill was launched by Fine Gael TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy. The Laois-Offaly TD said that the Justice Minister had promised to introduce a new law on this specific issue during the new Dail term, which begins next week.
The move comes amid continuing pressure on the Government to comply with EU demands to update its child protection laws.
Ireland failed to meet a deadline of December 2013 to comply with an EU directive on the issue and has faced serious criticism on the issue from the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.
The draft bill, which is expected to influence the final legislation from the justice department, follows a unanimous decision by TDs and Senators in Oireachtas Justice Committee this year.
Ms Corcoran Kennedy said the aim was to ensure existing law was pulled together and the specific issue of so-called grooming was addressed.
"My short bill seeks to tidy up existing legislation in this area and introduce into Irish law the specific crime of child 'grooming', whether it takes place in the general community or online," she said.