The Minister for Justice has said he is “very concerned” at the way rape trials are being handled in Ireland.
Charlie Flanagan was speaking as demonstrators prepare to hold protests around the country calling for an overhaul of the practice and procedure around rape trials.
It comes after a defence barrister in Cork commented on the type of underwear a 17-year-old complainant was wearing on the night she said she was raped.
I hear cameras cut away from me when I displayed this underwear in #Dáil. In courts victims can have their underwear passed around as evidence and it's within the rules, hence need to display in Dáil. Join protests tomorrow. In Dublin it's at Spire, 1pm.#dubw #ThisIsNotConsent pic.twitter.com/DvtaJL61qR
— Ruth Coppinger TD (@RuthCoppingerTD) November 13, 2018
This morning, Minister Flanagan said he is “very concerned at the practice and procedure surrounding rape trials.”
“Many rape and sexual offence trials have been very traumatic experiences for victims and those involved,” he said.
“I believe it is important therefore that we ensure that women firstly report a sexual assault and secondly feel comfortable and feel surrounded in the surrounds of the court."
He said he found it "somewhat surprising" that it was a female barrister that brought up the complainants underwear.
— Sean Defoe (@SeanDefoe) November 13, 2018
Yesterday Solidarity's Ruth Coppinger held up a pair of women's pants in the Dail to highlight what she said was a culture of “victim blaming.”
She said trials had seen "clothes, fake tan, even contraception being used to discredit women" and warned that the latest Rape Crisis Network study found that a maximum of 10% of sexual attacks are reported to police.
File photo of the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, 18-10-2018. Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews
Minister Flanagan said a procedural review is underway at the Department of Justice to "ensure that we can have best practice here.”
“If there is legislative change necessary then I would be very keen that we would set about doing that,” he said.
“But I believe it is more about the practice and procedure particularly in the case that you mention."