As I’m sure the Deputy is aware the O’Malley review was published on 6 August of this year and contains 52 actions with four overarching recommendations:
1. Promoting better awareness of victims’ rights legislation;
2. Promoting education about the meaning and importance of consent;
3. Improving inter-agency co-operation and exchange of information, especially in relation to services for victims; and
4. Ensuring consistency in service delivery.
When I published the O'Malley Review, I gave a commitment that I would bring an implementation plan before the cabinet within a number of weeks.
I am pleased to say that this commitment was met and on October 28, I published 'Supporting A Victims Journey' - A plan to help victims and vulnerable witnesses in sexual violence cases' which is a detailed roadmap for the introduction of the recommendations contained in the O'Malley review which, when implemented, will protect vulnerable witnesses, during the investigation and prosecution of sexual offences.
This work is being progressed as a priority under the Programme for Government commitments in consultation with our stakeholders.
I am now progressing plans to chair an Implementation Oversight Group of all relevant Departments and agencies to drive implementation of the agreed actions. This will include putting arrangements in place for regular consultations with the NGO sector as part of that process.
Not withstanding that, progress has already been made on giving effect to a number of important O'Malley recommendations including:
- the nationwide rollout of the DPSUs, where specially trained members of An Garda Síochána will be available to deal with vulnerable victims, has been completed.
- The General Scheme of a bill to give effect to the recommendations to introduce pre-trial hearings is being drafted and will be published by the end of the year. This recommendation is intended to help address delays in trails and to deal with matters such as defence applications to question a victim about his or her sexual experience.
- Engagement on development of training programmes for serving Gardaí, the legal professions and members of the judiciary who are participating in sexual offences investigations and trials has started, and I expect this training to be rolled out in 2021.
- Engagement with the legal aid board on how to ensure better provision of legal advice and support to victims of sexual crime has commenced.
- Raising the public’s awareness of their legally enforceable rights under the Victims of Crime Act 2017 including through the redesign of the victims charter website.