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Naturism In Ireland - The Legal Situation

The Law and Naturism : Public Nudity in Ireland

The Legal Situation

Irish law does not recognize Naturism. The law in relation to public nudity is such that it can be an offence, both under statute and at common law, for a man or a woman to expose himself or herself in a public place, including private lands seen from a public place.. There are, therefore, no beaches or other public places officially approved for the practise of naturism. Anyone wishing to go nude on a beach or in a public place in Ireland should be aware of this fact. The Irish Naturist Association accepts no responsibility if you encounter problems.


There are a number of laws, some of them more than a century old, which could, in theory, be used against naturists including the Vagrancy Act,  1824 and the Town Improvement (Ireland) Act, 1854. The main legislative provision concerned with public nudity was contained in Section 18 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1935 which states that:

"every person who shall commit at or near and in the sight of any place along which the public habitually pass as of right or by permission, any act in such a way as to offend modesty or cause scandal or injure the morals of the community shall be guilty of an offence"


However this provision was struck down by the High Court in 2014 as unconstitutional and it can no longer be used to prosecute anyone.

The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 states that:

"It shall be an offence for any person in a public place to engage in offensive conduct."

Offensive conduct is defined as:

"any unreasonable behaviour which, having regard to all the circumstances, is likely to cause serious offence or serious annoyance to any person who is, or might reasonably be expected to be, aware of such behaviour."

 

The law regarding public nudity is about to change as soon as the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 is enacted. This will provide for an offence of "exposure" where a person exposes his or her genitals and intends to cause fear, distress or alarm to another person. In other words being naked in itself will not be an offence, there must also be an intention to cause fear, alarm or distress. This a significant step forward The INA made a submission to the Government when this Bill was being considered. A copy of our submission can be viewed here along with the Government's reply.


If you want to read the full text of the legal opinion given by our legal advisors please click on this button.


Naturism in Practice

Despite the unfavourable legal situation, no member of the Irish Naturist Association has ever been prosecuted for bona-fide naturist activities. In reality, despite what the law says, the police are not interested in taking any action against naturists provided we behave in a responsible and considerate manner. If you wish to swim or sunbathe nude please use one of the beaches or bathing places listed here or a suitable secluded area. Please use discretion and common sense at all times.

The Irish Naturist Association has been campaigning for several years, without success, for the legalisation of public nudity in appropriate places such as officially designated clothing optional beaches. It is worth noting that Ireland is the only member state of the European Union, with the exception of Malta, which does not provide officially recognised public naturist facilities.

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