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12th Nov 2016

New law to define consent in rape cases to be put in place in Ireland

A much needed introduction to Irish law.

The Government is to introduce a definition of consent into the Irish law on rape.

Currently in Irish law, a person has raped someone if she/he had not consented to intercourse and the accused knew this, or was reckless as to whether the victim did or did not consent.

Consent has been defined by the courts, but not by the Oireachtas according to the Irish Times.

The Supreme Court ruling outlined how Irish law allows for the defence of a subjective “honest belief” on the part of the accused that the victim had consented.

 Irish law says the presence or absence of “reasonable grounds for such a belief” was something a jury should have considered.

Calls for consent to be defined comes from the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, who say that the definition needs to be strengthened.

Speaking on Drivetime, CEO Noeline Blackwell said:

”What if a man genuinely believes a woman consents – is that a good defence? Even if the belief is kind of off the wall?

What the judges said was ‘Yes, if a man genuinely beliefs that the woman gave consent, then no matter how unreasonable that belief is, then it is a good defence and he will not be convicted of rape.”
She added that this is differs in comparison to other countries’ definitions and therefore needs to be strengthened.