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Dr Ciara Kelly says young lawbreakers are ‘laughing’ at the justice system

Dr Ciara Kelly said teenagers who break the law should be treated like adults

Dr Ciara Kelly

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Teenagers who break the law should be treated like adults, Dr Ciara Kelly told Newstalk listeners.

The presenter said young criminals at “laughing’ at the fact “they’re getting away with” law breaking just because they are a few months or years off turning 18.

"There are some 17 year olds who are laughing at the fact that nobody can touch them for what they do,” she warned.

"You cannot have young people - six foot two 17 year olds - able to intimidate, able to be violent, able to run riot and intimidate communities without being able to tackle that.”

Dr Ciara Kelly said 16 and 17 year olds should not be treated as children by the courts when the break the law.

"I would go further in saying I don’t actually believe a 17 year old is a child. I don’t really even believe a 16 year old is a child. I would probably let them vote. I would probably lower the age of consent to 16,” she told Newstalk Breakfast listeners.

“I know they are not the same as 25 year olds but I also know they are not the same as eight-year-olds. I think they’re in sort of a category all of their own.”

Co-host Shane Coleman reeled at Dr Ciara Kelly’s opinion of young law breakers.

"I totally disagree with you as well,” he said. “If you’re 16 or 17, you are a child.”

“That doesn’t mean you have no responsibility but it does mean you need to be treated differently to a 19 year old or a 20 year old.”

The presenters discussed the issue of “ASBOs” when dealing with young offenders, an anti-social behaviour order.

In 2020, Gardaí issued 30 ASBOs. It was double the number issued in the previous two years.

Shane Coleman called them a “gimmick” and “a classic political solution to a complex problem.”

He said the anti-social behaviour orders “ended up being a badge of honour for kids” in the UK.

"This is a really complex issue and the kind of problems we have seen come from really complex social issues.”

"I don’t think you solve those issues with a simple headline.”

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has asked Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to review the use of ASBOs to deal with young lawbreakers.

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