Doyle case highlights need for court reform
Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD called for significant court reform in light of the Doyle case.
Teachta Adams also called for an end to government cuts to those agencies trying to help the victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
The Sinn Féin leader raised with the Taoiseach the sentencing procedures in the courts; the problems that specifically exist in relation to the Court of Criminal Appeal which is constituted on a part-time basis; the delays for victims and accused in processing cases; the inconsistency in sentencing; and the issue of additional resources for state, voluntary and community agencies which are trying to provide support for the victims of domestic and sexual violence in reduced budgets.
Teachta Adams called on the Taoiseach to ensure that time is allocated to allow for a thorough debate in the Dáil on these matters which Mr Kenny agreed to.
Speaking after Leaders' Questions the Sinn Féin leader said:
“The Fiona Doyle case has highlighted serious concerns within the criminal justice system about the manner in which it deals with cases involving sexual abuse and violence.
The outcome of that case has raised questions about the sentencing procedures in the court system.
There is a clearly identified problem in relation to the Court of Criminal Appeal which is constituted on a part-time basis.
The judges who sit in the Court are drawn from the High Court and Supreme Court and have significant additional obligations elsewhere.
Consequently the court has a huge backlog and there are major delays for victims and accused in processing cases.
This has led to inconsistency in sentencing and therefore a lack of clarity on sentencing.
The Report of the Working Group on ‘A Court of Appeal’ in 2009 said that a Court of Appeal with Permanent Judges would lead to more coherence Criminal Justice.
There is a need for more coherence. This is especially true in respect of sexual offences against children.
We have a duty to actively protect those who fall victim to abuse. This can best be done by ending cuts to those agencies trying to support the victims of abuse and by providing much needed additional resources.
There are thousands of women and children who are fleeing domestic and sexual violence in an abusive home and can’t get safe accommodation.
There is an urgent need for a government strategic approach which provides a wrap-around multi-agency approach that puts children first.