Dublin Rape Crisis Centre asks TDs to prioritise sexual offences bill

The group has mailed all ministers and TDs ahead of the Dáil term

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre asks TDs to prioritise sexual offences bill

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre in Dublin city | Image: Photocall Ireland

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) is calling on Oireachtas members to prioritise legislation on sexual offences in the forthcoming Dáil session.

The group says it has mailed all ministers and TDs, asking them to use their power to ensure the passage of reforming legislation.

According to the DRCC, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 will "plug gaps in the law relating to internet crime against children", as well as providing for reforms for persons with intellectual disabilities and children giving evidence in court.

It will also decriminalise those exploited through human trafficking and prostitution.

The CEO of the DRCC, Noeline Blackwell, says the current composition of the Dáil gives power to individual TDs to set the agenda.

"Every day that passes without this legislation is exposing the children of Ireland to the risk of awful harm.

"Over time, we in the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre are likely to hear from adults who were damaged as children through abuse."

She says that statistics from the centre show that about half of the people who contact it are adult victims of childhood sexual abuse.

This amounted to 5,776 or 49% of the overall calls to its national 24-hour helpline in 2015.

Ms Blackwell adds: "The legislation has passed the Seanad with all party support. It has government priority. It just hasn't been debated."

If taken up, the bill needs to be debated by the full Dáil before going to committee stage and being passed.

The DRCC National Helpline can be contacted on 1800-77-8888, or e-mail counselling@rcc.ie