Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Vivienne Clarke

The Minister for Justice is hopeful that measures to strengthen the law on consent in rape cases will encourage more victims to come forward and report cases.

Helen McEntee told RTÉ radio’s News at One it was important that victims felt they could come forward and know that they would be supported.

The changes in legislation in relation to consent had been called for by advocacy groups and victims “for years,” the Minister said.

There would now need to be “an objective test” where the accused would have to show that they had gone to reasonable lengths to determine that the person with whom they were about to have sex had given their consent.

It could no longer be the case that they thought the person had consented, Ms McEntee explained. Alcohol could no longer be used as an excuse for not seeking consent, she added.

“I am making it absolutely clear that that cannot be used as a defense.”

Anonymity

Anonymity for both the accused and the victim in all sexual assault cases will also form part of the changes. Previously there had been a concern by victims that they would be named in a court case. This anonymity will also apply to social media, said the Minister.

Ms McEntee commended ‘Nicola,’ the victim of serving garda Paul Moody, for her bravery in coming forward to report the horrific abuse she had suffered. Once the allegations had come to light the force had pursued the case with great determination.

The Minister said she had spoken with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to say that steps would need to be taken to identify “people like this” to ensure they did not enter or remain in the force.

A body of work was being undertaken by the Garda Fraud Squad to ensure there would not be any abuse of power, that the information of vulnerable people could not be abused and that access to the Pulse system was under supervision, she said.

There needed to be steps taken to change structures within the force. It was a priority for the Commissioner to “root out” any such people from within the organisation, she said.

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