Ireland urged to raise age of criminal responsibility

The age of criminal responsibility in Ireland is too low and should be raised, an influential European committee has warned.

The general age of criminal responsibility in Ireland is 12 years, but there is also provision for 10- and 11-year-old children charged with serious offences including murder, manslaughter, rape or aggravated sexual assault to be tried in the Central Criminal Court.

The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), part of the 47-member Council of Europe, reiterated earlier calls for the age to be increased in its latest report on Ireland.

The committee noted that the Department of Justice is currently engaged in a review of the Children Act 2001 and this “will include consideration of the provisions in relation to the age of criminal responsibility”.

It has asked to be “kept informed of all developments in this respect”.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends that the age of criminal responsibility should be 14 at minimum, having last year revised its decade-old recommendation that 12 was the “absolute minimum”.

The age of criminal responsibility in Scotland was raised from 8 to 12 last November.

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