Cabinet today agreed to proceed with legislation to criminalise the purchase of sex.
The new sexual offences legislation will also strengthen laws on grooming, child pornography and harassment.
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill is due to be published later this week.
On the age of consent issue, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald abandoned moves by her predecessor Alan Shatter to lower the age of sexual consent from 17 to 16.
Ms Fitzgerald brought a memo to Cabinet on the issue seeking approval to prepare legislation to criminalise the purchase of sexual services without criminalising the sellers of the services on Tuesday.
Her aim is to put the burden of the legal system on those who avail of prostitution.
The detailed legislation, containing 70 sections, will include measures to broaden the definitions of some sexual offences and strengthen measures so that offences will be easier to prosecute.
The Oireachtas justice committee has previously recommended that the purchase of sex be criminalised.