Rape Crisis Network Ireland welcomes the clarification from the Supreme Court regarding the definition of consent in sexual violence law

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) today welcomed the clarification from the Supreme Court regarding the definition of consent in sexual violence law (Director of Public Prosecutions -v- O’R) and reiterate our call for a positive definition of consent to be included in our law. RCNI argue again that a defence of a belief in sexual consent should be based on the objective reasonableness of the belief rather than an honestly held belief alone.
The Supreme Court’s clarification that the standard expected for an acceptable defence of belief in consent does not have room for uncertainty is also very welcome. Thus any uncertainty on the part of the defendant as to their having consent at the time means that that this defence is not available to them. The existing law on recklessness set this standard and we welcome the clarification.
We would say to the Tánaiste Fitzgerald in light of this ruling and as the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill goes to Committee stage in the Oireachtas that there now does not appear to be any impediment to including a positive definition of consent. Indeed we would contend this clarification of the law as it currently stands would offer reason to introduce a positive definition of consent.

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Clíona Saidléar

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