Minister Flanagan welcomes publication of issues paper on knowledge or belief concerning consent in rape law


27 July 2018


The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has welcomed the Law Reform Commission’s publication today of an issues paper on knowledge or belief concerning consent in rape law. The Commission have invited interested parties to make submissions on the paper by 26 October 2018.


The Minister said: “I welcome the issues paper published today by the Law Reform Commission. The paper emphasizes the complexity of the issues surrounding consent. I would encourage interested parties to contribute their views to the LRC.


The question of consent is central to rape and sexual offences, and is key to the prosecution of such offences. It is important that the law on consent is clear and unambiguous, to ensure that the interests of justice are served.


I am acutely conscious of the particular vulnerability of victims of sexual violence during the court process. A number of measures have been introduced in recent years to provide greater protections to victims in these instances, but I am aware that there may be further issues to address. A review of protections for vulnerable witnesses in the investigation and prosecution of sexual offences will begin shortly and the findings of the report will inform further proposals in this area.


I have committed to ensuring that we have robust legislation to deal with sexual offences and I will shortly publish the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill which puts in place presumptive minimum sentences for repeat offenders. The General Scheme of a Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill, which strengthens the post-release supervision of convicted sex offenders, has also been published.”


The Law Reform Commission were requested by the Attorney General to examine the law regarding the mental element of the offence of rape in 2017. The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 put in place a statutory definition of consent to a sexual act, and the request of the Attorney General was made in the context of considerations around the definition of consent.