Irish Justice Minister in move to change laws on purchase of sex

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter

Ireland’s Minister for Justice Alan Shatter is considering new legislation making it a criminal offense to buy sex.

Shatter is currently considering advice from the country’s Attorney General concerning the legal and constitutional implications of such a move.

Under current Irish law it is not an offence to purchase or to sell sex. Soliciting on a street or in a public place for the purpose of prostitution is an offence however as is the trafficking of people for sexual exploitation in any place.

Representatives from the Department of Justice and the Irish police force recently travelled to the Swedish capital Stockholm to survey the impact of legislation there which has criminalized the purchase of sexual services since 1999.



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“I am examining a report prepared by my department following the visit to Stockholm and which was submitted to the Attorney General’s Office,” confirmed Minister Shatter.

“I am also examining the Attorney’s advice concerning the legal and constitutional implications of introducing a ban on the purchase of sex.

“It is not an offence, in itself, to sell sex. In general, it is not an offence to purchase sex either. Consequently, neither party to the transaction is currently criminalized.

“Any proposal to amend the law in terms of criminalizing the purchase of sex would require very careful examination.”

Shatter’s move comes as the Government seeks to amend the law in relation to human trafficking.

The Minister added: “With regard to prostitution, the criminal law is aimed at protecting society from the more intrusive aspects of such activity from a public order perspective, while also seeking to protect prostitutes from exploitation.

“The offence can be committed by the prostitute, the client or a third party - a pimp, for example.”