Committee recommends referendum on age of consent

The special Oireachtas Committee established following the Supreme Court ruling on underage sex earlier this year this afternoon recommended a referendum to deal with the issue.

The special Oireachtas Committee established following the Supreme Court ruling on underage sex earlier this year this afternoon recommended a referendum to deal with the issue.

The Supreme Court ruled in the summer that the defence of 'an honest mistake' can be used by the defendant in a statutory rape case.

But the committee said this afternoon that this defence should not be allowed. It also said that the age of sexual consent should be lowered.

Children's rights organisations and the Rape Crisis network have welcomed the recommendation that the 'honest mistake' defence not be allowed in statutory rape cases involving children aged 15 and under.

The special Oireachtas committee said this recommendation reinstated the protection of children that existed before the controversial Supreme Court ruling.

It has also recommended that the age of sexual consent be lowered from 17 to 16, something that is sparking outcry amongst children's rights groups.

The committee wants the age of consent raised to 18 in cases involving people in positions of authority, such as teachers and sports coaches.

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