Press Release: HIV Ireland welcomes timely Review of laws governing the purchase of sex

10th July 2020

For immediate release.

HIV Ireland has today welcomed as timely the decision by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD to appoint Ms Maura Butler, Solicitor as Independent Expert to conduct a Review of Part 4 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 focusing on the purchase of sexual services.

Established within the timeframe specified in the legislation to conduct a review of the operation of Part 4 of the Act, and feted to last 3 months, the published Terms of Reference includes an ambitious programme of work including to:

  • assess the extent to which the objectives of the Act have been achieved, analysing in that regard the differential impact of the enforcement of the Act and of other public policy interventions and relevant social changes on the extent of achievement
  • assess the extent to which the Act’s objectives have not been achieved and make recommendations to address the barriers, if any, uncovered in that regard
  • assess the impact of the Act’s operation on the safety and well-being of persons who engage in sexual activity for payment, comment on any risks that the Act’s operation poses for the safety and well-being of persons who engage in sexual activity for payment and make such recommendations to strengthen protection for such person as are appropriate

Executive Director of HIV Ireland, Mr Stephen O’Hare said:

“With the appointment of an experienced and esteemed solicitor, Ms Maura Butler, to oversee the Review as one of her first acts as newly appointed Minister for Justice, Minister McEntee has signalled the importance of revisiting the operation of such legislation as a means of determining its practical efficacy. HIV Ireland has repeatedly raised concerns about the purpose and impact of the legislation on the human rights of sex workers and, in particular, their ability to protect themselves against the risk of exposure to HIV. We urge Ms Butler to ensure the voices of sex workers and their advocates features prominently throughout the Review process. We look forward to engaging positively with the Review to highlight what we view as serious gaps in health and human rights compliance within the legislation.”


For further comment please contact Mr Stephen O’Hare, Executive Director, HIV Ireland

Tel: 0857112635 Email:


Notes to Editors

Government Announcement Review of Part 4 Criminal Law (Sexual Offences Act 2017) 9 July 2020 – “Minister McEntee publishes Terms of Reference for the Review of Part 4 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017”.

Full Terms of Reference of the Review.

HIV Ireland 2016 report on the Swedish Model of criminalisation of the purchase of sex.

HIV Terminology and Appropriate Language Use Guidelines.