Seanad debates

Tuesday, 5 March 2024

Criminal Justice (Engagement of Children in Criminal Activity) Bill 2023: Committee and Remaining Stages


1:00 pm

Photo of James BrowneJames Browne (Wexford, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I send my gratitude to my colleagues in both Houses who supported the progress of this important Bill. The widespread support has been very welcome and very important. The contributions to date have demonstrated a robust backing for the objectives of this Bill. It is clear that we are united in seeking to mitigate against the very real threat of children being exploited to be engaged in criminal activity.

We now have legislation that enables the Garda and other authorities to intervene at an early stage in the grooming of children into crime. For the first time, we are making it an offence for an adult to involve a child in crime, whether that means using children to run drugs for a gang or getting them into shoplifting or stealing cars and bikes. The Garda will now be able to go after the adults who control these crimes. Members of the Garda will no longer be forced to rely solely on prosecuting children for possessing drugs or stealing cars; they will now be able to criminalise the adults for the lifelong harm they cause to children.

The provisions in the Bill are novel for this jurisdiction and I genuinely believe they will make a real difference to our ability to intervene and make a significant difference in the lives of children who are being exploited by criminal gangs.


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