Ireland to review sexual assault trials after rugby rape case

Irish rugby player Paddy Jackson speaks to members of the media as he leaves court in Belfast in March 2018, after being found not quilty of a charge of rape
AFP

Dublin (AFP) – Ireland’s Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has called for a review of how sexual assault trials are conducted, following protests after a high-profile case involving Irish rugby players, national media reported.

The government in Dublin will look into whether complainants should have access to their own legal team, in the wake of public concern over a trial which concluded last week in Northern Ireland’s capital Belfast.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Flanagan said he thought it appropriate to review all aspects of how “such deeply sensitive trials are conducted”. 

The justice minister said he would consult with women’s groups and lawyers to “study what more can be done to protect women and girls”.

The trial of Ireland rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding took place north of the border, but the case was closely watched in Ireland.

Both men were acquitted on Wednesday of raping a woman in Belfast in 2016.

Despite the woman being entitled to anonymity, her name was posted online and abusive comments were reportedly made about her on social media.

More than 4,000 protesters gathered in Dublin on Saturday following the not-guilty verdicts, some carrying placards which read: “Overhaul the system”.

Hundreds more attended a rally in Belfast, while demonstrations were also held in the Irish cities of Galway and Cork.

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