Thursday, June 01, 2006


Thursday Thoughts: Rape law controversy

Why Ms Laffoy why? I figured I should give my thoughts on the big story that's in Ireland right now concerning our statutory rape laws.

As I'm sure most of you are aware by now, on Tuesday a 41 year-old convicted sex offender who plied a 12-year-old girl with drink before having sex with her was released from prison after High Court judge Ms Mary Laffoy (pictured left) ruled the man's imprisonment was unlawful.

Last week, Ireland's Supreme Court ruled parts of the existing laws on statutory rape were unconstitutional saying the law did not allow a defence of making a genuine mistake about a girl's age.

The High Court decided then, in the wake of that ruling, to free the man, known only as Mr A.

This decision has caused outrage amongst the Irish people and there have been heated exchanges in the Dáil in recent days over this paedophile man being released.

As a result, the Government's proposed measures to deal with the legal loophole relating to statutory rape are expected to be disclosed this afternoon. Justice Minister Michael McDowell was initially planning to overhaul the entire law on underage sex, but he is now understood to have opted for a constitutionally sound version of the original 1935 legislation instead.

My own reaction to this ruling was one of shock and disgust. Irish courts apparently think that the 41 year-old man who plied a 12 year-old girl with alcohol didn't realise she was underage. "Lunatics running the asylum" springs to mind.

Essentially the Irish courts have released a man who is a threat to children. The youngest members of our society are our most vulnerable and need our protection. They don't need to be placed at risk by our very own system.

Why is it though that in this country politicians don't act until the very last minute when there is a problem? I commented way back in December of last year about how the Justice Minister was considering changing the age of consent in Ireland.

Under our bizarre laws, a male can can have sex at 15 but a female can't have sex until she's 17. So if a 17 year-old female sleeps with a 15 year-old male, our laws regard that as fine and dandy. However if a 17 year-old male sleeps with a 15 year-old female, our laws regard that as the male committing a crime and he can be arrested. To put it another way, if two 16-year-olds have sex in this country under our current laws, the boy would be committing a crime and the girl would not.

I'm not aware of any other European country that has one rule for one gender and another rule for another gender the way we do.

If McDowell had sorted out our strange rape laws back in December, perhaps we wouldn't be in this mess. It's funny how so many months passed by without McDowell doing anything. Now that he left things too late, suddenly he is rushing legislation through in a panic so that other horror stories, such as this one, don't end up endangering children further. McDowell in my eyes has failed yet again and I think he ought to consider his position.

This Government too has failed and failed and failed time and time again and when you think things can't possibly get any worse, they fail yet again. How many more of these scandals are we going to have to put up with?


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

© 2008 United Irelander.