Blue-Shirts just don't get it!

I see that Fine Gael are calling for a constitutional referendum to change Ireland's laws on underage sex and statutory rape.

This has been raised because of a case where a 27 year old got off on a charge of statutory rape.

The man admitted having sex with a 13 year old but relied on the defence of "honest belief"

Ireland's previous laws on underage sex were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court two years ago because they did not allow the defendant to claim he or she had made an honest mistake

Blue-Shirt TD TD Alan Shatter said the only way to change this is to provide an "absolute zone of protection for children" by having a constitutional referendum on the issue.

I have already looked at this issue when it first occurred two years ago; my view has not changed since then.

The 1935 act was a disgrace and it is quite right that the law has changed. The defence of honest mistake is not just a subjective defence; it also has a test of reasonableness as well.

That means should the defendant argue that he or she believed the person was over age, such a belief must have been a reasonable belief. That is where the objective test comes in and it's the only way to go.

The Blue-Shirts are playing to the gallery on this issue and living in cloud cuckoo land.

Shatter claimed "The law in this area can only properly be reformed if a Constitutional Referendum takes place to restore an offence of absolute liability in such circumstances. Fine Gael is fully committed to the Constitutional and statutory reforms necessary."

I'm sure that everyone is well aware of my views on rape but this suggestion by Fine Gael could very well lead to a denial of justice.

Having worked in bars and nightclubs for the best part of 10 years I can tell you with some authority that I have met many a young girl who looked and acted a lot older than her age.

Let's say a man meets a 15 year old girl in an over 18's disco, a very common occurrence with fake ID, and he honestly believes said girl is over the age. Should he be held liable to a charge of statutory rape if she consents to sex and lies about her age?

I don't believe so and I don't believe that this showboating by Shatter will materialise to anything.

Once again Fine Gael demonstrates their unsuitability for government.

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