The Government has said it has still not decided whether to regulate sex shops and lap dancing clubs.

Minister of State Paudie Coffey recently said it was "unclear" whether adult shops needed to be treated any differently than other shops under planning laws.

Previous efforts to regulate adult entertainment venues failed following disagreements between government departments, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

An interdepartmental group called the Adult Entertainment Task Force completed its last draft in 2009 recommending that a licensing system for sex establishments under an independent regulator should be included in casino regulations being planned at the time for the gambling sector.

But the Department of Justice, which was preparing the gambling regulations, strongly disagreed stating that it would be "quite frankly, not something that could be contemplated". 

A submission from Gráinne Bolger in the Department of Justice said gaming such as roulette and blackjack should not be associated with the sale of "sex articles", stimulating sexual activity or encouraging acts of restraint.

"We have very great reservations about the recommendation" she stated, adding "this is a leap too far".

The AETF was chaired by the Department of the Environment with members from the Department of Justice, gardaí, the Revenue Commissioners and Dublin City Council.

It was set up following controversies such as the opening of an Ann Summers shop in O'Connell Street and Stringfellows in Parnell Street both in Dublin.

Other more recent incidents include an unsuccessful attempt to open a sex shop near a school in Drumcondra in Dublin.  

There was meant to be four meetings of the task force but a final meeting did not take place following submissions in 2008 and no final report was ever agreed.

In a statement the Department of the Environment said a report was never finalised because of the prioritisation of other work in the planning area.  

The draft reports also recommended that someone holding an adult entertainment licence would have to be tax compliant and proposed the introduction of a new restricted film classification.

The task force had ruled out setting up "tolerance zones" also known as red light districts.

The National Women's Council of Ireland made a submission supporting more controls through a licensing system but was critical of the sex industry.

"We view adult entertainment venues as offering commercial exploitation, which contributes to a culture in which women are viewed as objects available for the sexual gratification of men," it stated.

An organisation called the Irish Association of Adult Shops made a submission through its representative Dave Andrews calling for a licensing system and proposing a ban on sex shops within 800m of a school, hospital or place of worship.

Their proposals would also ban the shops from residential areas, shopping centres or town centres.

The task force had agreed that local authority development plans would not be suitable to control adult entertainment as they do not deal with particular types of commercial activity.

While local authorities in the UK license liquor, sex establishments and nightclubs, the task force found that such a system in Ireland could place a disproportionate burden on local authorities and district courts.

Two final internal draft reports did propose that planning permission would be required  for a retail outlet changing its use to an adult shop but these were not circulated to other members of the task force.

The casino regulations were approved by cabinet in 2013 but in a statement the Department of Justice said it cannot say when a bill will be published.