Seanad urged to re-examine DPP approach to underage sex cases

 

THE HOUSE should re-examine the approach of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to cases involving underage sex, David Norris (Ind) said.

A l9-year-old man had been sentenced at a midlands court for having consensual sexual relations with a girl who was only 90 days under the legal age of consent. It had been accepted that the defendant thought that the age limit was l6. The case had been commented upon in The Irish Times.

The DPP had told an Oireachtas committee that in such circumstances, there had been no prosecutions and there would be none.

“That’s why I call it the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ syndrome. I think it is something that we need to investigate because this was discussed in this House and I warned that this might happen,” added Mr Norris.

Everything possible must be done to ensure that Protestant schools did not lose the State funding that had been available to them for the past four decades, Seanad leader Donie Cassidy said.

The €2.3 million involved – a relatively small allocation – was a godsend for rural Protestant schools.

“We certainly must do everything we possibly can to ensure that the funding that has been put in place over the last 40 years is left with these young students in these rural areas in particular,” said Mr Cassidy. Dan Boyle (Greens), deputy Government leader in the House, said he welcomed that fact that a meeting had been held between the Taoiseach and the Church of Ireland and other denominational schools representatives.

The Minister for Education was in a difficult situation, given that there had to be a reprioritisation of education spending due to the recent review of the programme for government. “But I would appeal to him to examine in particular this issue in the light of comments made by several senators, and that if there is a continuing constitutional difficulty in relation to this, to examine ways as to how that might be addressed.”

If there was a need to diminish the funding, it should be done over a longer timeframe, rather than having a situation where this was the only set of schools in the State that would be experiencing a decrease in capitation next year.