By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — The Department of Health has been strongly condemned for failing to control body-piercers who are putting rings, studs and other items in children as young as 12.
Councilor Eric Byrne, who has dealt with numerous complaints, including that of a 16-year-old young boy who was nearly rendered sterile as a result of a serious infection from a piercing of his penis, said the department did not realize how serious the problem was.
Byrne, a former TD who is also a member of the Eastern Regional Health Authority, said, "There appears to be an ignorance in the department of what exactly is involved, how invasive it is and its wide-ranging implications."
Both the EHRA and the Dublin Corporation have backed his campaign for new legislation and Byrne has now called on recently appointed Minister Michael Martin to have a fresh look at the whole area.
"There is a huge variety of these piercings involving things that can be put everywhere in the body — literally everywhere — in the genitalia, nose, ears, eyebrows, nipples and even woven into the skin," Byrne said. "The tragedy is that piercing is most attractive to underage kids. If some of their idols like footballers or Madonna or other pop stars get a piercing, they want one too."
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Byrne wants comprehensive proposals which would involve licensing, registration, proof of qualifications, age limits for children who can be pierced and public health examination to ensure sterile conditions are involved.