Taoiseach calls alleged paedophile ring ‘shocking, abhorrent, truly disgusting’

Varadkar acknowledges more work needed to implement child safety recommendations


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has expressed his shock at allegations of child abuse reported in the Munster region.

Gardaí suspect young children sexually abused by members of a Munster-based suspected paedophile ring were drugged and woke up to find strangers raping them.

“The crimes alleged are shocking, abhorrent, and truly disgusting,” Mr Varadkar told the Dáil on Wednesday.

He was responding to concerns raised by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin about the failure of the State to fully implement all State safeguards to deal with child sexual abuse.

Mr Martin said he did not wish to comment on the cases under investigation in Limerick, Cork and Clare, but he questioned the failure to implement the recommendations of the Garda Inspectorate report on combating child sex abuse, six years after the report was published.

Mr Martin said it was only last year that a victims’ helpline was introduced and only 45 per cent of the inspectorate’s recommendations had been implemented to date.

He was “struck by the lethargy and the lack of proactivity in getting the key recommendations implemented”.

He added that it was alarming that untrained, inexperienced gardaí were the ones being sent out to interview child victims and take the statements on their abuse.

He asked why there was “such poor implementation” of the Garda Inspectorate report.

Mr Varadkar said “crimes of a sexual nature are among the most heinous crimes that can occur and crimes against children are the worst crimes imaginable in my view”.

He acknowledged that more work needed to be done to investigate and prevent such abuse but he said there was a “total commitment” by Government to fully implement the inspectorate’s recommendations.

“We will not take a hands-off approach when it comes to requiring these bodies to implement the Garda Inspectorate report in 2012,” he said.

The Taoiseach pointed out that 13 of 29 recommendations in the report had been fully implemented six partially implemented, six not implemented and four not satisfactorily addressed.

He said senior counsel Caroline Biggs had agreed to chair the implementation group, an acknowledged expert in criminal law who had a particular interest in the investigation and prosecution of child sexual abuse offences.

Mr Varadkar described sex abuse as a heinous crime and said that child sex abuse was the worst crime that could be perpetrated.

The Taoiseach paid tribute to gardaí in the Newcastlewest district and to Tusla staff involved in the investigation.

“The crimes alleged are shocking, abhorrent, and truly disgusting,” he said.

Acknowledging the work that still needed to be done to implement the Garda Inspectorate report recommendations and provide the proper facilities Mr Varadkar said the Government was totally committed to working with gardaí and Tusla to combat child abuse.

The Taoiseach also highlighted the passage of legislation to strengthen the law curbing child pornography and the use of social media to groom children for abuse.