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Cynthia: give judges more training on sexual violence 

June 6th, 2024 8:30 PM

By Southern Star Team

Cynthia: give judges more training on sexual violence  Image
Judges need more training to deal with cases involving sexual violence, says FF candidate and barrister Cynthia Ní Mhurchú, left.

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EUROPEAN elections candidate for Fianna Fáil in Ireland South, barrister Cynthia Ní Mhurchú, has said that judges need more training in dealing with sexual violence cases.

Ms Ní Mhurchú said that between 70% and 80% of sexual offences reported to the gardaí between 2018 and 2022 have remained unsolved.

‘The Irish courts are a daunting place for the victims of sexual violence and more training for Irish judges around sexual violence cases in our courts would be a first step in moving towards a more victim-centred approach, as laid down in the Istanbul convention and the EU directive on combating violence against women,’ she said.

The family law practitioner said she had visited several women’s aid shelters and noted the sensitivity that can surround a domestic violence and sexual violence case and the importance that the victim, normally a woman, feels comfortable, listened to, and understood.

She cited a case from 2022, that was covered in the media, where a judge – albeit in a different legal jurisdiction - uttered seriously concerning remarks when sentencing a prolific sex offender.

‘Victims are usually terrorised and very reluctant to apply to the courts for protection.  I would welcome any measure that increases judicial understanding of issues relevant to their role in rape, domestic violence and sexual assault cases,’ she said.

‘Judges are human and are expected to have extensive knowledge on many areas of society.

‘Training could be delivered by other judges, medical practitioners, former victims, and specialist psychologists,’ she suggested.

‘The court room can be a cold and daunting place for a victim of domestic and sexual violence and we need to ensure that we do everything in our power to ensure women are not prevented from coming forward or too scared to prosecute such crimes.

‘The key thing is that the training should be structured and regular, not ad hoc,’ said the former Eurovision presenter.

 Ní Mhurchú has described the high figures for unsolved cases ‘as a failure of our justice system to adequately catch those who are committing sexual violence’.

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