A bill to introduce minimum sentences for repeat sex offenders has passed all stages in the Oireachtas.
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2018 also corrects an anomaly in the law of incest by equalising the penalty for incest where it is committed by a man or a woman.
The revised penalties for repeat sexual offenders are based on proposals brought forward by Minister of State Kevin 'Boxer' Moran last year.
The bill provides that where an offender is convicted of a sexual offence and is sentenced to imprisonment for a period of at least five years and is subsequently convicted of a further offence within 10 years, the court will specify "the minimum term of imprisonment" to be served.
This minimum term is proposed to be three-quarters of the maximum term of imprisonment prescribed by law in respect of such an offence.
Where the maximum term is life imprisonment, the minimum proposed is a term of not less than 10 years.
But the court will have discretion not to apply the minimum sentence if it is satisfied that this would be disproportionate in all the circumstances of the case.
Speaking about the bill's passage, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: "I am very pleased that this bill has now been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas.
"By introducing presumptive minimum sentencing provisions for repeat sex offenders, we are recognising the impact these devastating crimes have on victims and on society as a whole."
Minister of State Moran added: "I am delighted that this bill has been passed today and I am heartened by the broad support it has received in the Houses.
"I believe this is an important measure that needs to be taken and I thank Minister Flanagan for having taken forward the proposals introduced by me in a Private Members' Bill."