Press Release

Minister Lenihan opens NOTA Conference

Mr. Brian Lenihan T.D., Minister for Children, today (14th September 2005) opened the NOTA (National Organisation for the Treatment of Abusers) Annual Conference, at Dublin City University.

The conference, which is organised by NOTA, is their 15th annual conference. The Conference will run from the 13th – 16th September 2005 and will focus on the theme Harmful Sexual Behaviour: Innovative Practice: Effective Management.

Minister Lenihan noted that “NOTA’s focus on the importance of intervening with sex offenders so as to reduce the risk of re-offending provides a significant contribution to our collective efforts to address the pervasive problem of sexual assault in our society”. The Minister also highlighted the broad based multi-disciplinary nature of NOTA’s membership saying that “it is great to have so many different groups / agencies and organisations represented here today, including many people from Northern Ireland and overseas”.

Referring to the many cases of abuse which have been disclosed over the last decade, the Minister referred the Government enactment of the Sex Offenders Act in 2001. He said that the Act, which provides for notification and supervision of sex offenders is “widely regarded as a progressive piece of legislation”.

The Minister also referred to the need to intervene in a structured way with identified and convicted sex offenders and in this regard he referred to the Sex Offender Programme in Arbour Hill Prison.

“The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Irish Prison Service and the Probation and Welfare Service are collectively examining all the issues involved in increasing the number of sexual offenders attending programmes both in prison and in the community. We are cognisant of the importance of such an approach in enhancing societal and community protection. Our ultimate aim is the formulation of a comprehensive policy for the management, supervision and resettlement of imprisoned sexual offenders” said the Minister.

Referring to the role of the Health Service Executive, Minister of State Lenihan spoke of the services provided for minors who are victims of sexual abuse and their parents which include professional services such as Medical and Nursing, Social Work, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Clinical Psychology and Family Support Services.

He also referred to the ongoing reviews of child sexual assault services in the Eastern Region and of services for children and adolescents with sexual behaviour problems, which are being progressed and which he hopes “will ensure that services for children and families who are affected by sexual abuse will be of a much higher quality”.