RCNI Statement on removal of consent from Criminal Law Sexual Offences and Human Trafficking Bill 2023

Statement on the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee’s withdrawal of wording on consent from forthcoming legislation on rape – 30/11/2023, Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI). 

RCNI are certainly disappointed in the loss of this provision on testing a defendant’s reasonable belief in consent from this bill.

However, in RCNI’s consultation with the Dept and Minister, it was made clear that it would be a mistake to proceed with it. This Bill does not cover the issue comprehensively which could lead to a confusing double stand in our law. We have furthermore been assured of the Dept and Minster’s intention to include this provision in subsequent legislation and in an expanded form.

We call on the Minister to set out for the Oireachtas the rationale for this decision and outline –  comprehensively and without delay – the new bill  so that this can gain all party support and progress as a matter of priority.

The core challenge is that much reform in sexual violence law is developed a piecemeal fashion. This is unsustainable and has been criticised by the Grevio report just published by the Council of Europe on Ireland’s compliance with international obligations under the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention).

A coherent and consistent codification of the law on sexual violence is needed to ensure both our compliance with European requirements and an accessible legal system for victims.

For further details, please contact Louise Williams, RCNI comms on 0876790137 or comms@rcni.ie