travel ban

Ireland has become the first country in Europe to ban paedophiles from travelling, it has been revealed.

The move come after Australia became the first country in the world to introduce strict legislation to clamp down on sex offenders leaving or attempting to go abroad, earlier this year.

Under the new legislation,it would be illegal for convicted paedophiles to travel overseas.

The campaign to ban paedophiles has been kickstarted by Fr Shay Cullen, the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Irish missionary who runs the PREDA child abuse charity in the Philippines.

Mr Shay Cullen said that the move would prevent sexual predators from travelling abroad to countries such as Thailand, the Philippines and parts of Africa where corruption and lack of police resources make it easy for paedophiles to prey on children.

Travelling abroad to developing countries also allows paedophiles to escape justice in their own countries.

Mr Shay Cullen said: “It is a grievous crime for anyone to travel abroad to commit child abuse. Legislation was passed in Australia, but we want other countries to follow, and Ireland to take the lead in the EU on this.

“The benefit will be very big in terms of child protection. When more countries follow the Australian lead, many more children will be safer from abusers.”

Fr Cullen has been working closely with Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan, who in her role as a member of the foreign affairs committee, said draft legislation to impose travel limitations on Irish citizens who have been convicted of a sex crime is set to be unveiled in the next couple of weeks.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney stressed that the Government was “committed to combating child sex abuse in every way possible”.

However, despite legislation being in place to refuse to issue an applicant a passport in certain circumstances, he acknowledged that at present, the Passport Services do “not have any statutory power to impose or monitor travel restrictions on a passport holder”.

Australia’s introduction of tough laws four months ago will result in around 20,000 people, who have served their sentences but are still being monitored under the Australian National Child Offender Register, being unable to obtain passports.

It is estimated that around 2,500 new cases will be added every year in Australia.

In 2016, around 800 registered child sex offenders travelled overseas from Australia.

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