17/07/15 Senator Daly Speaks on the Judicial System

Senator Daly: Out of 47 European countries, Ireland has the fewest number of judges per 100,000 of population. I ask the Leader for a debate on that but also that the issue of barristers defending and prosecuting cases of sexual violence should, as they do in other jurisdictions including the United Kingdom, undertake training on the impact of sexual violence on victims. That does not happen currently but it should be mandatory.

Currently, only 17% of judges in the High Court and only 12.5% of judges in the Supreme Court are women. Again, we are not in proportion with the rest of Europe. Too often, the judges presiding over cases of rape, child abuse and those involving minorities are men who have been educated in private schools and are largely conservative and middle class. Their number is way out of proportion with the population, and that must change. However, it can only change by law, as we did in this House when we changed the requirement for political parties to have gender quotas. Forty per cent of members of State boards must be women, yet that has not happened. The problem with having the same group of people sitting on our Judiciary is that there is group think. They think the same way about the impact of violence on women. We have seen suspended sentences being handed down in cases in which—–

My time is not up yet. Those were cases in which the perpetrators admitted that they raped somebody—–

yet suspended sentences were handed down. We saw this week, in regard to the house of horrors, where three judges said that the sentence should be reduced for one of the most horrific cases of abuse in the history of the State.

All of these judges are male, middle class and privately schooled. That has got to change.

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