Dáil Éireann - Volume 426 - 17 February, 1993

Written Answers. - Sex Offenders.

43. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Justice the facilities or programmes, if any, available in our prisons for the treatment of recidivist sex offenders; if her attention has been drawn to the statements made at a hearing (details supplied) contradicting a claim made on her behalf at an earlier court hearing that this State had the most advanced treatment programme for such offenders; the plans, if any, she has for the expansion of such programmes; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn): Sex offenders, in common with other prisoners, have access to a range of medical, psychiatric, psychological and welfare services in the prisons. During a court hearing on 9 October 1992 Council for the State, through a misunderstanding made claims for those services [418] as they affect sex offenders which were overstated. At a court hearing on 14 December, 1992 these claims were quite properly withdrawn.

I endorse the view that one of the primary objectives of the prison system is to provide prisoners with such help, guidance, counselling, education and training as will lead them, as far as practicable, to a constructive life in the community on release. This rehabilitative objective is very difficult to realise in practice, but I believe that we should never cease trying to achieve it.

The objective has particular significance where sex offenders are concerned given the imperative of discouraging repeat offences on release. Experience in other countries suggests that there are no easy means of achieving results with this kind of offender. Nevertheless we must try for the best possible results. Therefore, I have, endorsed the work of a special group in my Department which is carrying out an urgent study of possibilities. The group has been asked to advise whether there may be available a programme or programmes of treatment which will be practicable, deliverable, sustainable, susceptible to proper evaluation at all stages and which will be effective and cost-efficient. I expect to have an initial report from this group within a month or so. I will make a further announcement when I have considered it.