Thursday, 27 January 2011
Department of Health and Children
Age of Consent
Barry Andrews (Minister of State with special responsibility for Children and Young People, Department of Health and Children; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Dún Laoghaire, Fianna Fail)
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The age of consent is a matter for the Minister for Justice and Law Reform. The Department of Justice and Law Reform has provided me with the following information. The Deputy will be aware that a majority of members of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children favoured a reduction in the age of consent from 17 to 16. In Northern Ireland, the age of consent has been reduced to 16 bringing it in line with the age threshold in the rest of the UK.
A Draft General Scheme to implement the majority recommendation of the Joint Committee is close to finalisation. The proposed reduction will also make it easier to harmonise our laws protecting young persons against sexual abuse with those in Northern Ireland. It would reduce confusion about the age and remove anomalies, particularly in border areas where young people cross the border regularly to socialise.