‘We should know if convicted paedophile here’

‘We should know if convicted paedophile here’

Parents should be informed when a convicted paedophile moves into their area, residents of a Westmeath estate say.

Since last Friday a group of residents from the Inis Glora estate in Ballinalack have held protests each evening on their green following reports that a convicted paedophile with links to the area was seen locally on a number of occasions in the last week.

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner, one of the organisers of the protest, Deborah Reid, said that communities need to be informed when someone with a conviction for paedophilia moves in.

“Clearly the police, by law, can’t disclose the whereabouts of these people in order to ease the fears of parents and residents.

“We are protesting to highlight the law and the restrictions of the law, which hinder the police in terms of communicating to parents as to the whereabouts of convicted paedophiles.

“Seventy percent of the households in our estate have children under the age of 12.

“The protests and the petition that I am starting is to get the law changed, so that from a residents’ point of view convicted paedophiles should not be allowed to reside in communities where X percent of households have children under the age of 12.

“Equally there should be an official sex register for convicted paedophiles and that information should be shared with the community and especially with local schools.

“At the moment there is nothing to confirm the whereabouts of convicted paedophiles. They can be living next door, and near children, and this is frightening.

“I know these people can’t be landed on the moon when they come out of prison.

“I am not looking for some sort of lynch mob – what I am looking for is for a change in the constitution so parents have the right to know,” she said.

Since the reported sightings concerned parents have kept their children indoors, Ms Reid says.

“We are all so fearful. This was a community where kids were out on their bikes and playing on the green but that has all stopped.”

The residents of Inis Glora have been in touch with a number of local politicians, including Deputy Sorca Clarke, who says that new legislation is needed.

“It is concerning for the people from that housing estate but also people from the wider community. I know as a mother it would certainly bring an additional level of concern for me.

“There is an obligation there. Parents have to be included in the conversation. We know there is an issue around people coming out of prison after being convicted of sexual offences.

“In my opinion there is definitely a gap in the legislation that would give residents some level of comfort, some sort of engagement in the process. That’s just not there as the moment. With the new Minister for Justice Helen McEntee starting this week, this is definitely something I will be raising with her.

“We can look at other countries and see how they have come up with solutions that work.”

A garda spokesperson confirmed that officers had attended the protest on Friday evening after receiving a call. The spokesperson said that there were “no issues” during the protest and that those taking part adhered to public health guidelines.

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