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PC brigade can say what they like ... we need a Sarah's Law

WHEN it comes to the issue of an Irish Sarah's Law, the question shouldn't be: Should we have one? We ought to ask: Why haven't we had one yet?

That's why I welcome legislation due before the Dail this week.

If it's passed into law, the Child Sex Offenders' Information and Monitoring Bill will allow gardai to disclose information about paedophiles who pose a danger to children.

The proposed law is based on the UK legislation named after eight-year-old Sarah Payne, murdered in 2000 by a convicted sex offender. Similar legislation known as Megan's Law is already in place in the US.

The Irish law proposes that parents would be provided with information regarding any sex offender who has access to their child – if the child is in danger.

The information would be disclosed where the offender would be known to the child or family but not directly related to them – someone in the family's social circle or community, essentially.

With two-thirds of sexual violence cases involving someone other than a close relative (according to the Rape Crisis Network), the law is necessary.

Only 7pc of cases involve complete strangers, so it's clear that the greatest danger is from people known to the child or the child's family.

Critics of the laws in the UK and the US argue that they are a breach of the sex offenders' human rights.

STIGMATISED

No doubt our own PC brigade will argue that offenders have done jail time, paid their debt to society and should not be stigmatised by public disclosure.

They might find it hard to convince many people after a week that saw one of the most sickening child sex cases I've ever come across, the rape of two children in a Midlands town.

When the beast who carried out these rapes gets out, surely people he might encounter or hoodwink would be entitled to know of his convictions?

The bill is yet to be fully debated, and the exact terms of how information on known child sex offenders can be imparted to parents has yet to be decided.

Of course what must be avoided is a situation where a disclosure leads to people taking the law into their own hands.

But the benefits of this legislation outweigh any concerns.

Paedophiles are unlike any other criminals. Most psychiatrists believe they are incurable. Many of these sick individuals cannot control their vile impulses. I believe many continue to pose a threat despite completing therapy in jail.

Surely a child's right to protection from such paedophiles takes precedence over every other consideration?

I would echo the words of the mother of Sarah Payne, who stated after the UK law was brought in: "If just one child has been kept safe as a result of Sarah's Law, then all the work to see it introduced would have been worth it."


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