Following a high profile trial in Belfast earlier this year, a review was commissioned and conducted by retired Court of Appeal Judge, Sir John Gillen to determine how the law in Northern Ireland deals with serious sexual offences.
One of a number of key recommendations put forward is that publicly funded legal advice for complainants in rape trials be considered.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice, Jim O’Callaghan TD commented, “The great degree of international media coverage sparked by the Belfast rape trial has offered an opportunity to consider the attitude towards complainants in cases of sexual offence.
“Almost six months ago I introduced a Bill in Dáil Éireann seeking to afford legal representation to victims of alleged sexual offences. I am encouraged that John Gillen in his review has recognised the merit in such a proposal.
“There is undoubtedly a need for greater legal protections to be offered to complainants in cases of this nature. Every victim should feel adequately supported by the State to pursue justice. It is extremely disappointing that the Government is failing to get behind this legislation and to progress it.
“In the wake of the Belfast rape trial in March, Minister Flanagan directed that there would be a review of how rape cases were conducted Ireland. He made a firm commitment that he would bring forward a package of procedural and legislative changes by the end of the summer. It is now November and we are still awaiting that review.”