Thursday, 12 July 2012
Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences Against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Bill 2012: Report and Final Stages
I thank the Members for their co-operation in facilitating the passage of the Bill. I thank the Opposition Members for their co-operation and constructive contribution to the important debate on the Bill both in this House and in the committee. I also thank the members of the Fine Gael and Labour Party for their support.
This is very important child protection legislation. It creates a new era in which there will be an important obligation on those who know that a serious offence has been committed against a child or vulnerable adult to report that offence to An Garda Síochána, and where they have information that would assist the Garda in an investigation of such an offence an obligation will now exist to report that information to the Garda. There will be a ministerial order to bring the Bill into force following it being signed by the President, which I hope will occur within the next few days. The legislation should become operative at the end of this month.
It is a year this week since the publication of the Cloyne report and this legislation is an enormously important response to that. The debate on the Bill was greatly enhanced by the early publication of the heads of the Bill and the debate we held in the justice committee with the various organisations involved. It ensured that the debate was constructive and positive at all times. I thank the Minister, his officials and all the groups who participated in that process, and the Chairman of the committee for ensuring that it took place.
I echo the comments of Deputy Calleary. The publication of the heads of the Bill and the fact that we could discuss them with a number of groups who are active in this area informed the debate on Second Stage. There was also a good Committee Stage even though none of our amendments was accepted. It was a worthwhile exercise and many of the concerns people have raised were answered by the Minister on that Stage. If people are anxious to get more information on the legislation I would encourage them to read the transcript of the Committee Stage proceedings. I also welcome the fact that the Minister intends to have the Bill come into force before the end of the month.