Sexual offences Bill delayed over sponsor’s promotion

Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran unable to progress Private Members’ Bill since becoming Minister

A spokesman for Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran said he had decided to withdraw the Bill, prepare a memo for Government outlining its principles and have the Bill reintroduced as a Government Bill later this year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

A spokesman for Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran said he had decided to withdraw the Bill, prepare a memo for Government outlining its principles and have the Bill reintroduced as a Government Bill later this year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

A Bill aimed at imposing tougher sentences on repeat sexual offenders has had to be withdrawn because the backbench TD who brought it has since been promoted.

The Commission of Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill was a private members’ piece of legislation providing that sexual offenders, who have served five years or more, be sentenced to at least three-quarters of the maximum allowable sentence for second, or subsequent, offence.

The sponsor of the Bill was the Independent Alliance TD Kevin “Boxer” Moran. It was published in May and was to be brought before the Dáil on Tuesday for its second stage debate, during which TDs discuss the principle of the Bill.

The Longford-Westmeath Deputy was a backbencher when he brought the Bill but has since become the Minister of State in charge of the Office of Public Works, replacing Seán Canney with whom he had a job-sharing arrangement.

Over the weekend, Mr Moran was informed by the Cabinet secretariat that the Bill could not proceed in its current form, and neither could it become a second stage Government Bill.

Status

The problem revolves around Mr Moran’s status. Private Members’ Bills can only be brought and progressed by TDs and Senators who are not office holders or Ministers.

The Minister of State was given two choices: either to allow the Private Members’ Bill to continue but under the name of some other TD; or else withdraw the Bill and reintroduce it as a Government Bill.

A spokesman for Mr Moran said he had decided to withdraw the Bill, prepare a memo for Government outlining its principles and have the Bill reintroduced as a Government Bill later this year.

Mr Moran is likely to face the same difficulties with another Private Members’ Bill he has brought forward, this one designed to ensure that householders in mortgage distress are facilitated to stay in their own home.

Transfer

He has not as yet signalled if he will withdraw the Keeping People in their own Homes Bill 2017 or transfer it to another backbench TD with a view to progressing it.

The first Private Members Bill in this session to pass all stages of the Oireachtas was an anti-fracking Bill written by Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin, which completed its passage at then end of June.

A Bill by Fine Gael TD Josepha Madigan to reduce the minimum period of separation for divorce proceedings also looks likely to be approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Mr Moran’s Bill proposed to add a schedule of serious sexual offence including incest rape, serious sexual assault, child pornography, and child trafficking to the Criminal Justice Act 2007.