Published on Tuesday 24th May 2011

Statement by Minister Shatter on Prime Time Investigates programme on clerical sex abuse in Africa

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D.,
said he had watched last night’s Prime Time Investigates programme on
clerical sexual abuse in Africa with a sense of revulsion at the
unspeakable catalogue of abuse against children it revealed.

Minister Shatter said:

‘I share the widespread public concern and disgust at the revelations which
the programme contained. While the behaviour took place abroad, we have a
solemn duty to do all that is within our power to ensure that perpetrators
of this predatory abuse of children are brought to justice wherever it
takes place. There can be no hiding place for those who do these
despicable acts to children.

Our law does provide, in the Sexual Offences (Jurisdiction) Act, 1996, that
in certain circumstances persons can be tried here for sexual offences
against a child which are committed abroad.

I have been in touch with the Garda Commissioner about this matter who, of
course, shares my concern at the revelations in the programme.

The Superintendent in charge of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
Investigation Unit is being appointed to examine the programme. In
particular, he will examine whether any criminal behaviour was disclosed
which can be pursued in this jurisdiction.

In addition, the Gardaí are liaising with the Health Service Executive
about any child protection issues that arise in this jurisdiction from the
presence here of a number of persons identified in the programme.

And I have been assured that the Gardaí will, of course, cooperate with
their counterparts in other jurisdictions in any investigations they carry
out.

Investigations and bringing prosecutions in relation to offences carried
out abroad are, of their nature, very difficult and I do not want to raise
any unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved. But I believe
that people are entitled to be reassured that we are doing everything open
to us to counteract this evil wherever it takes place and that the
examination which the Gardaí will be undertaking should offer that
reassurance.’

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