I welcome the Minister of State. I am initially somewhat disappointed that we did not succeed in having our only amendment put forward here. It rarely happens. It did happen in this case but the Dáil rejected our amendment, which we must accept.
I want to be fair to the Minister of State and thank him for the enormous work that he and his officials have put into this important legislation. It is a good Bill. Our amendment would have only delayed the legislation for 90 days but possibly longer. Even if it were to get through the process eventually, the Minister would not have to enact all parts of the legislation if he did not so wish, which is his prerogative. In politics one must be pragmatic and realistic. Therefore, to delay the legislation would not have been the right thing to do. Having spoken to a number of groups involved, particularly the Victims Rights Alliance, the view was that, on the whole, is was better for the legislation to proceed.
I want to acknowledge the good work that has been done on the legislation. It was important to exercise our functions and powers in the Seanad. They may be limited but it is always nice to test them and learn in the process. I am happy to support the motion for the Seanad not to insist on the amendment.
I want to raise two issues with the Minister of State. I ask that he bears in mind what we were trying to do. There is a requirement that people are trained in ways to deal with sensitive matters related to crime, be they members of An Garda Síochána or whatever. A judicial council Bill is coming and it would be important to include a requirement to provide legal training on the area of sexual assault be it the Judiciary or the legal training of people. There is an issue of sensitivity that is gender neutral in terms of what it is talking about and deals with. There are sensitivities all round. I ask the Minister to bear that in mind and consider facilitating such training in future legislation.
I would like to discuss an EU directive. I understand, and I am open to correction, that on 16 November, which is not far away, infringement proceedings against the Irish Government will commence. The Minister of State or some member of his staff will turn up to contest the case, although some people would argue that it is just another EU infringement or, to be precise, an alleged infringement. Clearly, the Irish Government will make a robust case against the proceedings. Can the Minister of State confirm whether infringement proceedings will take place? I ask him to outline how the Government intends to contest the case.
It is important that we address the issue of training for practitioners. I want to finally acknowledge, which I decided was an important aspect on reflection, the independence of the Director of Public Prosecutions. I respect his independence and function.
That is something I may have missed. In terms of its functions in law, it is very important that the office is totally independent. I acknowledge that that was an oversight on my part but, on the whole, it is a good Bill. I wish the Minister of State well and I thank him for being here today.