The Department of Justice has said that giving unrestricted access to the sex offenders register to the public would be counter-productive, as it would “drive offenders underground” and make it difficult to monitor them.
This comes in response to calls for the register to be made public in the wake of a series of incidents in which young girls in Dublin 15 have been attacked or accosted by men in recent weeks.
There have been two occasions in which girls were approached by men in cars and in a separate incident a girl believed to be 13 years old was attacked by a man in Manorfields while out jogging.
An unknown assailant grabbed her from behind and attempted to pull a bag over her head, but she managed to break free and raise the alarm.
Gardai were called but the man had fled the scene when they arrived.
Gardai are currently investigating all three incidents.
There was also an incident at Tir na nOg Park in Carpenterstown in October in which a woman was attacked and her assailant attempted to assault her sexually. No one was ever arrested or charged in relation to this.
In light of these incidents Cllr David McGuinness (FF) is calling for the sex offenders register to be made public so people can know if and when a convicted sex offender moves into their community.
He said: “Given the number of high profile incidents, [like] the one up in Carpenterstown [which] no one was ever caught for, and the number of incidents affecting young children, I would like to see the register made public.”
He went on to say that he made a post on Facebook in which he put this idea forward and sought the public’s opinion on it which 250 people liked and over 100 people commented saying that they wanted to see this happen.
He said that in the United States a system is used where people can search a postal code area and find the locations of those who have offended.
Cllr Lorna Nolan (Ind) agreed that it would be a good idea saying that it would help people to be more vigilant.
She went on to say that she believes that when sex offenders are being rehabilitated and reintegrated into society, it would be best for them to spend a certain period of time in a monitored system like a halfway house first.
A spokesperson from the Department of Justice said gardai may disclose appropriate information concerning convicted sex offenders in certain circumstances, where the level of risk makes it necessary.
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill (published in November 2014) was published following a public consultation process.
Those who responded to the Department’s consultation process were of the opinion that “giving the general public unrestricted access to names and addresses on the sex offenders” register would be likely to be counter-productive. That kind of access would drive offenders underground and make it more difficult to monitor and supervise them.”