As the Deputy will be aware, Tom O’ Malley, Senior Lecturer in Law at the National University of Ireland, Galway and member of the Law Reform Commission, is chairing the working group carrying out this review. He is joined by representatives of the Garda Síochána, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Probation Service, the Courts Service and my own Department.
I understand that the review is at an advanced stage and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
As the Deputy may be aware, the review is examining the adequacy of measures available to protect vulnerable witnesses during the investigation and prosecution of sexual offences, to help ensure the best quality evidence is available to the jury in making their decision, while respecting the dignity of the victim and their right not to be re-victimised by the investigation or trial process itself.
It will examine the entire legal process around sexual offences, from the initial reporting of an offence through to the end of any court proceedings. The review is particularly concerned with the treatment of complainants and vulnerable witnesses throughout this process.
The terms of reference encompass a broad range of issues and I understand that the working group has received a large number of submissions. Although the process is taking somewhat longer than intended, it is important that these complex and sensitive issues are considered carefully.
While the outcome of the review cannot be pre-empted, I look forward to its recommendations. These will be given careful consideration alongside the recent work of the Law Reform Commission on Consent in Rape Law.