O’Malley Report recommendations must now be implemented
6 August 2020
Seanad Group Leader and Spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration
Labour Senator and Party spokesperson on Children, Disability Equality & Integration Ivana Bacik has welcomed the publication of the review of the investigation and prosecution of sexual offences in Ireland, also known as the O’Malley Report, and has called for its urgent implementation.
Senator Bacik said:
“The O’Malley Report was commissioned to consider how best to guarantee protections for vulnerable witnesses during investigations into sexual offences, following the high-profile Belfast rugby rape trial in 2018. I welcome its publication and call for its urgent implementation.
“There are fifty recommendations contained within the report, many of which have been highlighted by organisations working with survivors of sexual assault and harassment for years. It is clear from the radical changes proposed by the report that submissions made during the public consultation phase were central to its drafting.
“Noeline Blackwell, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, has said that the ‘loneliest’ person on the journey to prosecution for a sexual offence is the victim, who is often left lacking in support, information and legal advice. I expect that provision of free legal advice, sensitivity training for legal professionals and increased access to information, such as a clear schedule for a case before it is set down for hearing, will offer reassurance to survivors.
“Many of the report’s recommendations are changes which will not require legislation. Others, such as giving anonymity to defendants, excluding the public from trials and providing for pre-trial hearings so that victims are not forced to disclose intimate details of their sexual history without warning, will all require legislative change.
“I strongly welcome Tom O’Malley’s call for changes to the law surrounding the publication of names on social media during a trial. When assurances are given that a complainant or defendant’s identity will be kept secret, anonymity must be guaranteed. In recent years, there have been instances where individuals involved in a trial have been “doxxed”, or their identity has been revealed online; this is profoundly traumatic for those involved and their families. I hope that the Minister for Justice will be proactive in putting legislation before the Oireachtas once it reconvenes in the autumn to deal with each of these issues.
“I welcome the announcement by Minister McEntee that she intends to develop a pathway for the implementation of the O'Malley Report within 10 weeks. These transformational recommendations may help to make survivors less apprehensive about approaching a criminal trial; I urge the Minister to implement them without delay.”