'archaic' | 

Labour TD says drink spiking should be a crime with a ten-year sentence

Spiking is currently dealt with under poisoning legislation, something the TD slammed as ‘an archaic way of dealing with very new situations’

Stock picture.

Aodhan O Riordain

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

TD Aodhan Ó Ríordáin has called on the government to make drink spiking a criminal offence.

The Labour politician said spiking should come with a ten-year sentence and not be treated like “poisoning” – which it currently is.

He slammed current legislation as “an archaic way of dealing with very new situations.”

"The offence of spiking isn’t a standalone offence currently,” he told Newstalk Breakfast this morning.

Mr Ó Riordáin said that when he raised the issue with Justice Minister Helen McEntee, she informed him that, to date, drink spiking is “dealt with under poisoning legislation.”

This makes it a crime with “a three years penalty – as opposed to the 10 years that we’re suggesting.”

The Labour politician stated that poisoning and drink spiking are “very different” offences.

When someone’s drink is spiked, it is often with the intention “to disable the person in order to commit a sexual offence,” he told Newstalk.

"I think there's a different dynamic when somebody deliberately goes into a nightclub or a social setting, identifies somebody, interferes with their drink, uses a substance in order to effectively disable them... and then to exact an assault on them.

"That is a very different, premeditated type of offence that we think needs to be stamped out."

The Labour TD conceded that Minister McEntee “did accept that the penalties for poisoning doesn't really equate with what we're talking about in terms of spiking.”

"We're going to pursue it and hopefully the Minister will have some reflection with her officials and come back, and we can work together on it".

In late October, it was warned that reports of 40 people who were victims of spiking this year were “just the tip of the iceberg.”

Aodhan O Riordain

Official figures show a surge in drink spiking as 22 people reported having been spiked last year which included several months of lockdown.

A spokeswoman for Cork’s Sexual Violence Centre said that victims rarely report their ordeal to gardaí.

“We are hearing every day, ‘I was spiked’, ‘My friend was spiked’, ‘My friend’s friends were spiked’,” Dola Twomey told The Hard Shoulder.

“It’s something that has been happening all through the years.”

The centre created an online portal where people can report drink spiking.

Ms Twomey said that from January to April this year, more than 100 people “actually submitted their experiences to our hub”.

We’re looking at a phenomenon that has changed quite a bit,” she said.

“In the past it wasn’t unusual for somebody to be spiked as a prelude to sexual assault.

“What’s happening now is that somehow, in some people’s brains, this is considered to be funny… and that’s why there is so much of it happening.”

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