Thursday, 16 November 2023
Protection of Children (Online Pornographic Material) Bill 2020: Second Stage [Private Members]
I move: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”
As the Minister will be aware, Ireland has become a very violent place in recent times. Sexual violence is increasing at a shocking rate and lives are being destroyed day in, day out, in Irish society. In 2011, 1,958 sexual offences were recorded whereas that figure had increased by 75% to 3,433 in 2021. In 2011, 447 rapes were recorded and that had doubled to 983 in 2021. Sexual assault by children of children is also significantly on the increase. Children at Risk in Ireland, CARI, a specialist and professional therapy service, stated that more children are coming to its services who have been sexually assaulted by children. It has seen an increase of 44% in the level of sexual abuse and sexually harmful behaviour of children by children. Many longitudinal studies show that when adolescents consume hardcore porn, they are six times more likely to engage in violent and aggressive sexual behaviour.
As to the drivers of this increase, there are many reasons it is happening and many reasons for the increase in violence in this country at the moment. There is no doubt that one of the issues is the proliferation of online hardcore pornography and violent pornography consumed by children. Today, eight- and nine-year-olds have access to explicit hardcore materials that would have been illegal for adults to consume even a generation ago. Research at the school of psychology at the University of Galway has shown that 60% of teenage boys have consumed hardcore pornography before the age of 13.
It is becoming so accessible that most parents now feel it is virtually impossible for them to exercise control over what their children are consuming. I spoke to a person recently who told me that last Christmas, when they looked at the iPad their ten-year-old uses for the last searches the child had made, the last two searches were one for Santa Claus and a second for a video on oral sex. That is the crazy clash of images and materials that is happening in children's lives at the moment.
Children are being sexualised at a far younger age. It is radically altering their perceptions of sex and their own understanding of what healthy relationships are, and it can lead to physical and mental health problems. In certain cases, it is leading to addiction. Pornography often contains scenes of serious aggression and violence, and there is significant evidence to show that children consuming this material are acting out what they see on the screen on other children.
There is an ocean of research on this material. When I raised this with the Government a number of years ago, those in government at the time spoke in grave tones about how terrible it was that children were consuming this, but they shrugged their shoulders when it came to action. They actually asked me about proof and many said it was not true. However, there is now an ocean of proof, evidence, facts and material. Marina Porter, who is a manager of the Donegal Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre said:
What we have observed is that the level of physical violence accompanying sexual violence has seriously escalated over the last couple of months. Multiple perpetrators in one crime are increasing and this is highly concerning.
It is shocking that this is happening. We have seen a number of very high-profile cases, such as the Ana Kriegel case, where the perpetrators of that shocking assault and murder were known to have accessed tonnes of heavily pornographic materials. Indeed, the phone of boy A, who wore a zombie mask during the attack, contained searches for child abuse and thousands of pornographic images, including sexual violence. I believe this horrific attack should have been enough to catapult the Government into some level of action but it was not. What happened was that the Government shrugged its shoulders in regard to taking responsibility for this.
What is happening in general to children throughout society is horrific. We have this perception that we live in a more progressive society and that, in some way, this generation is a better generation to be a child, but it is not. It is a significantly more difficult generation to be a child. The Department of Health surveyed young people to find out if they had made an attempt on their own life and one in ten young adults said they had. The same survey found that only one in 100 people over the age of 65 had ever made an attempt on their own life, so even though these people had lived far longer, the figure was ten times less in that regard. A total of 84,000 children are referred to Tusla annually and that figure increased by 14,000 in the past year. There are 55,000 people doing the leaving certificate annually but the number of children being referred to Tusla is rocketing past the number of children sitting the leaving certificate every year.
The Government is disconnected in many ways from what people think about this. A Women's Aid report found that 71% of people believe that pornography is harming society, not just pornography consumed by young children, and that pornography in general is leading to harm on society. That figure is 75% among women. Some 63% of people believe that pornography is leading to increased sexual violence in society and, again, that figure was far higher for women. Some 77% of women believe that pornography reduces men's respect for women and 81% believe it increased men's interest in violent sexual activity.
I also believe the Government is disconnected from what is happening internationally. I understand the Government's amendment states that this will somehow contravene European Union legislation in this regard.
The French Government has examined the dangers of pornography being consumed by children and has determined that websites providing this material will not be allowed to provide it to children in future. People who want to visit pornographic websites will have to install an application for a government-licensed digital certification to prove they are at least 18 years old. Sites that do not comply with this will be banned from publishing in France. The French courts have already blocked nine pornographic sites under this law, so it is already in place in another EU country. We can look at what is happening in Britain. There is really good research that I ask the Minister to look at from the Children's Commissioner for England that has shown pornography is having a serious detrimental effect on the behaviour of children as young as eight years of age. The commissioner, Rachel de Souza, stated:
For too long we have brushed the issue of pornography under the carpet as awkward, uncomfortable, or too difficult to solve. ... [we cannot] shy away from discussing the nature, scale and impacts of online pornography.
That, if you like, is a summary of the Government's approach to this issue over the last ten years. The commissioner has also stated the need to provide a decent age verification system to prevent this happening.
Despite all the evidence, all the reports from organisations, the work and support of victims of sexual abuse and all the developing best practice internationally, for some reason Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party have to date refused to protect children from the dangers of hardcore and violent online pornography. There may be ideological reasons for this. There are some who believe hardcore pornography could potentially have a benign influence on children. I listened to a contributor to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment curriculum process being interviewed by Pat Kenny and she said children as young as 12 years could be given the script of a pornographic film to help them to understand what pornography is about. We have this really strange situation where parents are doing their damnedest to prevent kids from consuming this material and there are some within the Department of Education who think we should be introducing this material to children on the crazy understanding that a 12-year-old has the mental capacity to be able to navigate this material. Some cite the difficulty of creating such a ban, while others see it as too hard, but I believe we have no excuse for not at least trying to solve the issue.
The question is why the Government has stood idly by for so long on this. It is interesting the Government is looking to ban the advertising of junk food to children because it can join the dots between children watching junk food on television and that damaging their health, but it cannot seem to join the dots between children consuming hardcore pornography and that damaging their health. The Government could make an approach to the Internet service providers. It could ask them outside of law to create an opt-in safe Internet service for families so the general Internet service would only provide material that is safe for families. Then if an adult wanted to have an Internet service that allowed for adult material, they could ask for that when they are applying for that. However, the Government has not done this.
We in Aontú have created a Bill that is a first step in the right direction. It will force the Government to make regulations on this. Our Bill deals with enforcement and offences. It mimics what has happened already with copyrighted film, which means that those who say this cannot be done can be shown that it already has been. Internet companies started to show films that were copyrighted, so Universal and all the film companies decided this was unfair because copyright was being circumvented and they were losing out on money. They went to the courts, the courts agreed with them and then they forced the Internet service providers, that is, the Eirs and Vodafones of the world, to block those websites from the Irish market. How come we can do it when it is for money, but we cannot when it is for the welfare of children or of women who could potentially be sexually assaulted due to this rape culture that is being generated as a result of this material? It is an indictment of all of us that this has been happening for the last 15 years, yet there has been no action on it.
Our Bill simply seeks to give the Minister the power to develop policy on this matter, to give ComReg the power to implement that policy and to ensure those companies breaking the policy are then told to abide by it. If they do not, they are being told to stop allowing websites to publish within this country. There is a right of appeal. This is not bad legislation for an Opposition party. Opposition parties often do their best to produce legislation but this Bill is very practical, real and structured. It offers a real opportunity. I plead with the Minister not to go ahead with her amendment and to allow this Bill go to Committee Stage and start the process whereby we protect children as young as eight to 12 years of age from becoming addicted to or habitually watching content that is violent, explicit and dangerous for them. I ask the Minister to take a step in stopping the development of the rape culture that is starting to exist in Ireland, powered by this type of material, and to ensure we have a response from the Government. I ask her not to kick the can down the road and say that the Government has plans, is considering doing something, may have a Bill to do this or is going to ask for a report from somebody else, and that maybe someone else will give the Government advice. Then five years will pass and the Minister and I will be standing in the Chamber again with nothing having been done.
I move amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after "That" and substitute the following: "Dáil Éireann declines to give the Protection of Children (Online Pornographic Material) Bill 2020 a second reading on the basis that its scope is not in line with the remit of ComReg, its objectives are being pursued by the Government through other initiatives, it would likely infringe European Union law and the country-of-origin principle and the independence of our national regulatory processes.".
Go raibh maith agaibh as an deis an t-ábhar tábhachtach seo a phlé. Gabhaim buíochas leis an Teachta Tóibín as ucht a chuid oibre tosaigh. I thank the Deputy for raising this important issue.
As a parent, I am acutely conscious of the issue of children accessing online content that is inappropriate. The Deputy noted the lack of legislation in this area when he introduced his Bill back in 2020. However, since the Bill was initiated, we have not been sitting on our hands. I took a major step towards addressing this issue by bringing the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act through the Oireachtas and commencing it in March 2023, thereby formally establishing Coimisiún na Meán. As our independent online and media regulator, the commission will lead the charge in ensuring online services and platforms in Ireland put in place the systems and processes that will reduce the availability of harmful online content.
The Deputy’s Bill, while seeking to address the same issue, will not achieve that objective. In the time since the Bill was introduced, Government has implemented significant policy decisions that have and will change the online regulatory landscape. Alongside the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act, for example, further regulation will arise from the Digital Services Act, with support from the EU’s Better Internet for Kids Strategy, including in the area of age verification in respect of the provision of certain online services. It is through these policy avenues that we will deliver a safer online space for everyone and especially our children.
Before I set out the work that the Government has delivered on with respect to online safety, it is worthwhile to set out what I am advised are quite significant legal and technical issues with the Deputy’s Bill. These are issues of sufficient magnitude to render the Bill unworkable. The Bill seeks to prevent children accessing pornography online by enabling ComReg, as the Deputy just outlined, to block access to particular websites based on regulations to be made by the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications. These regulations would apply specific obligations, including around age verification, to "relevant persons", a term defined in the Bill. The first major issue is the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, to whom the Bill refers, has no role with regard to the regulation of content transmitted using telecommunications infrastructure. ComReg is responsible for regulating the supply of, and access to, electronic communications networks and electronic communications services. Under the Communications Regulation Act, it is clear ComReg has no regulatory role in respect of the content made available on those networks and services. This is a serious flaw in the Bill, especially when one considers the work the Government has done in establishing Coimisiún na Meán as the online safety regulator.
An coimisiún is an independent regulator with responsibility for tackling the availability of illegal, harmful and age-inappropriate online content. In doing so, an coimisiún will complete the transposition of the EU's revised audiovisual media services directive and fulfil its future role as Ireland's digital services co-ordinator under the EU Digital Services Act. As an example of the Government's commitment to supporting Coimisiún na Meán, significant funding of €10.5 million and €6 million respectively was allocated in the 2023 and 2024 budgets to enable it to progress with extensive recruitment, hit the ground running and ultimately become self-funding. Based on the existing functions of Coimisiún na Meán in the regulation of content, it would not be appropriate for the power proposed in the Bill to be conferred on ComReg or the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications. In fact, it would be inefficient and ineffective, not least for those entities that would be subject to overlapping regulatory regimes.
Another major issue is that the power to make regulations granted to the Minister in the Deputy's proposed Bill appears to infringe on the requirement of many EU laws, including the audiovisual media services directive, the Digital Services Act and the general data protection regulation, for an independent regulator. That is why, in implementing the audiovisual media services directive through the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act 2022, we provided for the independence of Coimisiún na Meán. This Bill seeks to address issues covered by the EU instruments I have just mentioned through ministerial regulations and would therefore conflict with this requirement for regulatory independence from Government. To be clear, this requirement for regulatory independence is something that Ireland strongly supports at EU level and it is reflected in our domestic approach to regulation.
It is also the case that the Bill would only allow for blocking at the level of the Internet service provider. This would mean that, in practice, enforcement notices issued by ComReg would only be suitable for non-compliant services that operate stand-alone websites providing access to pornography. In other words, it would be impossible to enforce such notices in respect of pornographic material made available on hosting services such as OnlyFans, Reddit or X, formerly Twitter. This means that the Bill would not offer comprehensive protection for children from access to pornographic material.
As a final legal consideration, the approach set out in the Deputy's Bill would likely be contrary to the EU's country of origin principle. This arises because the Bill seeks to place obligations on persons based elsewhere in the EU, including Internet service providers that provide commercial services within this State. For example, when initiating the Bill, the Deputy mentioned the importance of regulating Pornhub. However, this particular service has its European headquarters in Luxembourg and is subject to the laws and regulations of that country for its operations across the Union. Ireland has strongly defended the country of origin principle as part of EU negotiations and has committed to safeguarding it within our national digital strategy. The principle is crucial as it greatly simplifies legal compliance for many online services. It enables these services to access the entire EU Single Market while only being required to comply with the laws of the country in which they are based as opposed to the various national laws of each country in which they operate. The principle is vital for many services that have based their EU operations in Ireland and we will continue to support and defend it.
As I said at the outset, notwithstanding the significant legal and technical issues with the Bill, what is most important is that the Government has made serious and significant progress and investment in addressing online safety over the past period. I note the Deputy highlighted that children always have the opportunity to view inappropriate material where they have access to an electronic device. However, there are multiple Government and European initiatives in progress that will tackle this issue.
Perhaps most notably, Coimisiún na Meán was established under the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act. This legislation was welcomed by a range of organisations including the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the Children's Rights Alliance, which see this as a possible window to a safer online world for children and young people in this country. In this regard, the Act enables an coimisiún to implement a regulatory framework for online safety through the development of binding online safety codes and online safety guidance materials. These regulatory measures will protect the public from harmful online content and children from age-inappropriate online content, including pornographic material. In particular, the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act requires Coimisiún na Meán to adopt an online safety code that gives effect to the regulation of video-sharing platforms as set out in the revised audiovisual media services directive. This will include requirements to adopt measures in respect of age verification, content rating and parental controls, including in respect of pornographic material. This was reflected in Coimisiún na Meán’s recent call for input on the development of its first online safety code, which it expects to adopt in early 2024.
The legislation also provides for a robust enforcement regime, which includes the potential for criminal offences where there is a failure to comply with monitoring or investigative measures among other things. Broadly, the enforcement regime enables Coimisiún na Meán to effectively monitor compliance, including through information requests, to commence an authorised officer investigation and, where it finds evidence of non-compliance by a designated online service, to pursue the imposition of a sanction. The sanctions available include significant financial penalties of up to €20 million or 10% of relevant turnover, whichever is higher. This enforcement regime goes beyond what is proposed in the Deputy’s Bill and will ensure that designated entities are appropriately held to account. Also in terms of enforcement, the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act also provides for senior management liability in a similar way to how this is provided for in the Deputy’s Bill. However, I am satisfied that the existing provisions in the Act are sufficient to deter non-compliance.
Alongside the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act, Ireland is in the process of implementing the EU Digital Services Act. This came into force last August and has applied since then to very large online platforms and very large online search engines and is enforced in that respect by the European Commission. From February 2024, it will apply to all platforms. The Government decided to designate Coimisiún na Meán as Ireland’s digital services co-ordinator under that Act so it will be monitored and enforced in Ireland by an coimisiún. The Act introduces a range of obligations, including requirements for certain online services, including the very large online platforms, to complete risk assessments as to the risk of their users being exposed to illegal online content. They must also complete risk assessments as to the exposure of children and young people to age-inappropriate services or websites. These services, including services providing pornographic material, must then address this risk of exposure, possibly through age verification or age assurance. The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment is progressing the necessary legislation to give effect to the designation of an coimisiún as our digital services co-ordinator. This will be in place by February 2024.
Since its establishment, Coimisiún na Meán has been engaged in intensive set-up work, recruiting staff and making preparations to ensure it is ready to take on the relevant additional functions under the Digital Services Act. In July, I appointed a digital services commissioner, who will also work alongside the online safety commissioner to develop our robust new regulatory regime for online safety.
More broadly, the online world has no regard for geographical borders and so it is important that we also take account of other ongoing work at the EU level. For instance, the Better Internet for Kids strategy was adopted in May 2022. Among other things, this strategy aims to develop a code of conduct on age-appropriate design. The code will apply to providers of online services and contain rules that seek to ensure that children are appropriately protected from harmful online content, including through prevention of access to certain online services.
Age verification and age-appropriate design are complex issues which will apply to platforms and websites across the EU and globally. It is therefore crucial that we are fully across developments in this area and in a position to build upon the existing initiatives and measures in place to protect children and young people.
Finally, the need to address wider concerns about children’s access to the Internet and to smartphones is also reflected by my Cabinet colleagues. In this regard, the Minister, Deputy Foley, recently announced the launch of a new Government policy that will encourage parents and schools to carefully consider smartphone and Internet access for children. The policy has led to the issuing of guidance by the Department of Education entitled "Keeping Childhood Smartphone Free". This guidance will be an important resource for parents and primary schools who wish to engage locally on this issue and further consider smartphone access, particularly for primary school children.
To conclude, I agree with Deputy Tóibín that we need to tackle the accessibility of age-inappropriate online content for children. However, I do not believe that the Bill brought forward today will appropriately and comprehensively address this issue. Alongside those concerns, I am satisfied that the significant work the Government has put into the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act, establishing Coimisiún na Mean, implementing the Digital Services Act and participating in a range of important EU initiatives will achieve this important objective, bring about important changes and ensure that children have strong protections in this area.
Therefore, in light of the extensive work already ongoing in this area and the technical and legal issues raised previously, I put the amendment to the motion to the House opposing the reading of the Bill for a second time.
Mar a dúirt mé, tá leasú á chur chun cinn agam chun cur i gcoinne léamh an Bhille seo don dara huair.
Sinn Féin is in favour of any measures which will contribute to the safety and protection of children in online spaces. We worked hard on ensuring additional measures for online safety, particularly for children, in our work on the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act. For example, we worked with other Members of the Houses and a large number of children's charities and advocacy groups to ensure that an individual complaints mechanism is available to social media users in situations where people are being harassed or bullied online. Coimisiún na Meán has not implemented that Part of the Bill as yet. However, I welcome the Minister's comments in that regard and look forward to hearing further progress on in that area.
Children need to be afforded protections from harmful content online, including online pornography, the subject matter of this Bill. Leaving children and parents to their own devices in managing this matter is ridiculous. The State needs to step up and protect children online in the same way we protect children from unsafe situations in the real world. It needs to do this by ensuring that those hosting this content introduce effective measures around age restriction. CyberSafeKids reported this year that 93% of children aged between eight and 12 years own a personal smart device, including 47% who own a smartphone, and 31% of eight- to 12-year-olds have unrestricted access to the Internet.
The Children's Commissioner for England reported in May 2023 that children as young as eight years of age have been affected by viewing pornography and most children have seen pornography by the age of 13, with most of them seeing it for the first time on social media.
Much has happened in the past few years with regard to online media regulation. The Online Safety and Media Regulation Act, which was passed in December 2022, introduced the first Online Safety Commissioner. We have also had the passing of the EU Digital Services Act which includes measures to make very large online platforms more accountable. This includes a requirement to apply age verification to ensure children are better protected from age-inappropriate content. These new changes, in particular the establishment of Coimisiún na Meán, have introduced an entirely new mechanism for dealing with online safety and means this Bill is now out of date with regard to how to introduce these regulations. The Bill calls for ComReg to regulate but presumably the Online Safety Commissioner is now best placed to do that.
I am not sure if the legislation is now needed or can be amended on Committee Stage to the extent required. My understanding is that the 2022 Online Safety and Media Regulation Act includes a provision, section 139ZC, which provides for a scheme under which bodies are nominated. Those nominated bodies can then notify Coimisiún na Meán on certain matters, including concerns relating to the availability of age-appropriate online content on a designated service or relevant online service. Coimisiún na Meán can then take actions based on that notification. As the commission is in its infancy, it is not clear how exactly that would work but it may be sufficient to deal with matters such as the one named in this Bill.
It is also worth mentioning that this issue has proven to be problematic in other EU jurisdictions which have tried to legislate for it. There appears to be a clash of rights with regard to that protection. I understand a technological solution, which will hopefully work in tandem with existing European laws around data protection and privacy rights, is expected to be available soon. I hope this will ensure we can introduce age verification that will protect children from inappropriate and harmful content online. We will work towards that aim continuously with everybody who has an interest in the protection of children.
Ar dtús báire ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a ghabhail leis na Teachtaí as an méid a labhair siad faoin mBille seo. As I stated at the beginning of this debate, the issue of children accessing online material that is not appropriate for them, particularly pornography, is a serious matter. This is why the Government has acted and legislated for a new regulatory framework under the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act, to be enforced by an independent expert regulator, Coimisiún na Meán. In bringing the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act through these Houses, I was highly conscious of the need for better protections for children online and for regulation in this area to be practically and legally robust and to align with the wider EU digital regulatory rules. In developing the Act, I consulted closely with a wide range of stakeholders, including organisations focused on the welfare of children, such as the Children's Rights Alliance and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
I am happy to say that we now have in place a regulatory system through which we can work to achieve the goals behind Deputy Tóibín's Bill. As I set out, while the Deputy's Bill is well-intentioned, it is unworkable and has been superseded by the Government's action in this space. I will not reiterate the issues with the Bill in detail but I will note the key issues. The Bill seeks to provide powers to ComReg to regulate online content, despite ComReg not having a role in content regulation. Further to this, the Bill is not cognisant of the enactment of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act and the establishment of Coimisiún na Meán and is, therefore, simply out of date.
In addition, the Bill's approach to regulation is to confer significant rule-making powers upon the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, who has no role with regard to the regulation of content transmitted using telecommunications services, which would then be enforced by ComReg. As I said, this approach runs counter to the standard approach in Irish and EU law of providing for independent regulatory bodies.
Lastly, the Bill is a blunt instrument, both in terms of how it intends to deal with enforcement against non-compliant services and its geographical scope. The latter, in particular, runs counter to the EU's country-of-origin principle that Ireland has strongly defended.
I am satisfied the work undertaken to date both legislatively at an EU level and through other initiatives has created a foundation upon which children will be better protected online and better able to enjoy the good that the online world offers. This is why I have proposed that the motion be amended so that the Bill is not read a second time.
When Homer Simpson ran for mayor, he ran on a motto of "Why can't somebody else do it?" That motto is all over the speech the Minister has just made. Instead of taking this serious issue and delivering on it, she stated it had been outsourced to Coimisiún na Meán, which is to create codes and guides in the future. When we try to work out what those codes or guides are, it is extremely nebulous, to be honest. Even the Sinn Féin speaker stated she was still unsure of how exactly Coimisiún na Meán will implement the particular change we need here.
Rather than showing the urgency we need to address the horrendous increase in the level of sexual assault in society, the Government is outsourcing this to Coimisiún na Meán or the EU to come up with something in the future. I often think that if we were to get rid of the future tense from the Government's language, it would have very little to say. The Government has been in place for four years and Fine Gael has been in government for 12 or 13 years at this stage. The three parties in government have been around government for a long time, so this issue is not brand new. I have a major difficulty with the nebulous role that Coimisiún na Meán has and the fact that it-----
I know of codes and I know of guidelines that are going to be produced.
The Minister made the point that this Bill will not tackle the whole problem of pornography being pushed to children. If we cannot fix all of it, we will fix none of it. That seems to be the instinct here but that is rubbish. To be honest, Deputies and governments can only make marginal changes to society but those marginal changes can protect the welfare of lots of people and are worth doing in their own right. I am not saying my Bill is perfect but it could be brought to Committee Stage, worked on and fixed. There are issues in it that could definitely be fixed in committee.
The Minister mentioned that particular companies are located in other countries but the objective of this Bill is to control Internet service providers that are located and registered in Ireland. The Minister mentioned the fact that Pornhub and other companies are located in other countries but we can control what Internet service providers are doing here. Indeed, there is a precedent in this regard. Internet service providers have been forced to take down websites that are operating in other countries because they are providing commercial copyright material. Money talks in this country.
I understand that steps have been taken and forgive me if, in my presentation today, I suggested the Government has not made an effort. The Minister's Bill is one such effort. I accept that and perhaps I should apologise to the Minister somewhat for not acknowledging that the creation of Coimisiún na Meán is a step forward. It is an effort by the Government to tackle this issue. My main point is that there is an urgency here and the Government's response is still quite nebulous in terms of what is actually going to be done.
This project copies exactly what has already happened within the legal system in Ireland. While the Bill is not perfect, I ask that the Government would allow it to progress to the next stage.