Belfast Telegraph

Legal review to look at whether rape accused should still get anonymity

The examination into how sex crime trials are conducted is expected early next year.

A review into how sex crime trials are conducted in Ireland will examine the issue of anonymity for those accused of sexual violence, the Justice Minister has confirmed.

Charlie Flanagan previously committed to review all aspects of sexual assault trials and asked lecturer in law at NUI Galway Tom O’Malley to conduct an examination and present a review.

When asked if he would consider ending anonymity for rape accused, the minister said on Tuesday: “This is an issue that will form part and parcel of Tom O’Malley’s review, I don’t want to make any pre-emptive statements, but I’m very grateful to him for chairing this working group.”

Mr O’Malley’s review is expected early next year.

I want to move away from an ad hoc approach to the collection of data on the prevalence of sexual violence. Collecting this data means that it will now become part of statistics that the State collects Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan

Ireland is one of the only jurisdictions where a person accused of sexual violence is given anonymity.

Mr Flanagan also announced that the Government had approved proposals for a new approach to the collection of data on sexual violence.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is to undertake a new comprehensive national survey on the prevalence of sexual assault in the state, known as SAVI II.

The minister has come under pressure to undertake another Sexual Abuse and Violence Ireland (SAVI) survey, the first and only SAVI survey was conducted in 2002.

Recent court cases including the much-publicised Belfast case which saw two Irish rugby players acquitted, and a case in Cork where the complainant’s underwear was referenced by the defence, has pushed the topic to the forefront of national conversation.

Mr Flanagan acknowledged that attitudes in Ireland had changed dramatically in 16 years, that he was concerned about under-reporting of sexual crime and a fresh approach was needed to inform policy.

“I want to move away from an ad hoc approach to the collection of data on the prevalence of sexual violence,” he said.

“Collecting this data means that it will now become part of statistics that the State collects.

“We know from the 2002 survey and from consultations with NGOs that sexual crime is under-reported in Ireland.

“A survey of this nature will present a truer picture of the reality on the ground and ensure that Government policy is properly informed.

“I want to pay tribute to the NGOs, in particular the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, which has consistently called for a survey to be conducted.”

The government says given the complexity and sensitivity of the survey, the entire process of scoping, executing and reporting on the survey will take around five years.

A total of 150,000 euro (£133,000) has been allocated to allow CSO to carry out technical research, which Padraig Dalton, director general of the office, branded a “challenging departure for the CSO”.

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