274. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will address a matter relating to the advertisements for the No Excuses campaign (details supplied). [26481/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy has indicated in the details supplied, the age of consent for certain sexual acts is 17 years of age in Ireland. This includes sexual intercourse, buggery, and other penetrative acts set out in section 4 of the Criminal Law (Rape) Amendment Act 1990. For other sexual activity, section 14 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1935 applies. Under this section, it is not a defence to sexual assault on a person under 15 years of age that the person consented to the activity.
In addition, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 introduced a ‘proximity of age’ defence to the offence of engaging in a sexual act with a child under 17. This applies where the parties are over 15, there is less than 2 years between them, and the act was consensual and non-exploitative.
I wish to advise the Deputy that the scene referred to in the details supplied, within the advertisement for the ‘No Excuses’ awareness campaign on sexual harassment and sexual violence, was produced by the advertising agency awarded the contract for the campaign, following a rigorous planning period which included consultation on the campaign with my Department, campaign experts and non-Governmental organisations working in this area. The aim of this particular element of the advertisement is to portray a scene of sexual harassment, and possible sexual violence, in the context of a couple in a long term relationship.
I am also advised that the intention was to indicate that the couple were in a committed long term relationship using language referenced in everyday conversation. It was not intended to comment on the legality of any activity they may have engaged in when they were sixteen.