Bill to clamp down on sex tourism passes all stages


PAEDOPHILE rings were operating here as well as in Belgium, Mr Don Lydon (FE) claimed. "I know the police have knowledge of them and I know they pass information on youngsters from one to the other. The information is not just about getting sexual pleasure. It's about physical abuse of the worst kind, of inflicting pain and suffering on young people and children. It's about abusing people in the most savage way possible."

Mr Lydon was contributing to the debate on the Bill designed to clamp down on sex tourism, which passed all stages.

A practising psychologist, he said he favoured electronic tagging of paedophiles, because he knew of no cure for them.

Mr Lydon said he had dealt with many cases of child sex abuse. Some of the cases that had come up recently were so shocking and depraved that he felt they must be linked to pornography which was proliferating in this country.

The penalties in the Bill, a fine of £1,500 or 12 months' imprisonment on summary conviction, or a fine of £10,000 on indictment, were derisory for the kind of satanic behaviour involved, complained Mr Lydon. "This is just crazy if you think of the kind of money that is being made out of it."

It was presumed that practically all such violators were men, but he had seen more and more cases where women had carried out such abuse. This was all the more sad and frightening.

Dr Mary Henry (Ind), one of the main architects of the Bill, said she understood the penalties had been set at a level that complied with our domestic law.

Later, warmly welcoming the Bill's passage, a jubilant Dr Henry noted that it had been enacted on the 50th anniversary of UNICEF, the international body set up to help safeguard children's rights.

A top public administrator was yesterday told to stop wasting taxpayers' money. Mr Michael Finneran (FF) complained about "the recent decision of the Cavan County Manager to take to the High Court a case to show that he was not liable to fill the potholes in the county.

"I think this is the most obscene thing I have ever heard in recent years," declared Mr Finneran. "It is totally inappropriate that a senior pub, lie official should spend taxpayers money in the High Court defending something that he is liable to do."

Mr Finneran said he understood the manager was considering an appeal to the Supreme Court. "I am asking that the Minister for the Environment intervene here and stop this nonsense, and tell the Cavan County Manager to get on and do the job he was employed to do and stop wasting taxpayers' money on such a matter."

The public should not have to take their most senior official to court to get basic roadworks done.

House leader, Mr Maurice Manning, noted the "robust remarks" made by Mr Finneran. "I don't disagree with them very much."

On the day 10 Downing Street joined the Internet, a senator complained about the primitive working conditions with which he and his colleagues had to contend.

Prof Joe Lee (Ind) said the Oireachtas would be a laughing stock if the public knew of this primitiveness.

Prof Lee was supporting a call by fellow Independent, Mr Joe O'Toole, for the provision of information technology facilities.

Mr Pat Magner (Lab) agreed such advances were long overdue.

The House leader, Mr Maurice Manning, suggested that the best approach was for the Seanad Committee on Procedure and Privileges to hear an updated report from officials of the Office of Public Works who were preparing plans for the redevelopment of the library and research facilities.