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Question

397. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will enact a statutory instrument under Part 15 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 to insert elders and vulnerable adults under the provision dealing with reckless endangerment of children; her plans to address abuse and reckless endangerment of elders and vulnerable adults. [13170/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Under section 176 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 it is an offence for a person who has authority or control over a child, or over a person who has abused a child, to intentionally or recklessly endanger the child by causing or permitting the child to be placed or left in a situation which creates a substantial risk to the child of being a victim of serious harm or sexual abuse. It is also an offence to fail to protect a child from such risk while knowing that the child is in such a situation. This offence was introduced on foot of a suggestion contained in the 2005 Ferns Report into allegations of clerical child sexual abuse.
Any amendment to this section requires primary legislation and it cannot be added to or amended by statutory instrument.
However, I would like to remind the Deputy that, in addition to the general criminal law, there are arrangements in place to promote the protection of children and other vulnerable persons from abuse by those charged with their welfare such as the garda vetting of employees which is used by employers to determine the suitability of prospective employees. The HSE also operates a dedicated Elder Abuse Service for reporting any incidences of abuse or suspected abuse.