Anonymity for Sexual Abuse Victims in Ireland
Within Irish law, those accused of rape can only be publicly identified if convicted and only then if a victim waives their right to anonymity and a judge allows the identity of the convicted to be made known.
There are definite variations between UK and Irish law in relation to sex offence anonymity which has been displayed further to recent revelations of UK TV soap actors being trialed for sex offence cases.
Figures ranging from 2011 show that 59% of those convicted of sex crimes within the Central Criminal Court in Ireland are not named in the media post-conviction.
Sex crimes do not carry automatic pre-conviction anonymity (other than defilement, incest and rape). This allows for a situation where a violent sexual assault will allow for the disclosure of an accused’s identity, but an accused rapist may retain their anonymity.
Anonymity in some cases may be retained in order to protect the identity of the victim as opposed to that of the accused/convicted. Some victims however, may wish to waive their right to anonymity in order to allow for other victims to potentially come forward. Some other victims have also came out to express their concern that the decision for the anonymity of an accused or convicted sex offender should lie in the hands of a judge as opposed to the victim themselves.
A spokesperson from the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) has stated that they feel pre-trial anonymity for the accused is necessary in Ireland because of the small size of the country and that many rape cases come from small rural communities. The Irish Constitution also stipulates that every citizen has the right to a ‘good name’ meaning that stripping pre-conviction anonymity is ‘simply not a runner here’.