Noeline Blackwell: Change needed in laws and public attitudes towards rape

Noeline Blackwell: Change needed in laws and public attitudes towards rape
This Is Not Consent protestor Stacie Ellen Murphy walking on Grafton Street yesterday. Photo: Cathal Burke / vipireland.com

The director of Dublin’s Rape Crisis Centre, Noeline Blackwell says there needs to be a change in legislation and in public attitudes towards rape.

A change in mind set is needed, any sexual activity that is not free and consensual is rape, she told RTE’s Morning Ireland.

Ms Blackwell was commenting on calls by Leona O’Callaghan for changes to the system by which rape trials are investigated and conducted in the Republic and a recommendation by retired senior judge Sir John Gillen, that the public should be excluded from rape trials in Northern Ireland.

Ms O’Callaghan had waived her anonymity following the conviction on Monday of Patrick O’Dea when he pleaded guilty on the second day of his trial at the Central Criminal Court to charges of sexual assault and rape on dates in 1994 and 1995.

Speaking on RTE’s Claire Byrne show on Monday night, Ms O’Callaghan said that the system had torn her to pieces. It had taken “four long years”. She called on Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to provide the resources to shorten the length of time it takes for cases to go through the legal system.

During those four years she had attempted suicide and been hospitalised a number of times, she said. “The current process is not working.”

Leona O'Callaghan. Photo: Press 22
Leona O'Callaghan. Photo: Press 22

On the same programme Mr Flanagan said it was time for new protocols for lawyers, the traditional “full blooded defence” often using whatever means available “was not acceptable” he said.

The Minister added that not alone was it time for a change in legislation, but also in public thinking. There should be a policy of zero tolerance of rape, he said.

On RTE’s Morning Ireland, Ms Blackwell said the Minister now has an opportunity to make these changes. The legal system needs to understand that when there isn’t free and full consent it is abuse, up to and including rape.

Ms Blackwell paid tribute to Ms O’Callaghan saying how difficult it was to stand up and explain the level of harm that the accused caused to her.

“For all those who are victims of abuse, she explained very powerfully the level of damage and abuse of a child and how hard it is to have that abuse recognised and then prosecuted.”

More on this topic

Further potential victims of serial male rapist Reynhard Sinaga come forwardFurther potential victims of serial male rapist Reynhard Sinaga come forward

Review could see rape victims  granted legal representationReview could see rape victims granted legal representation

'Crunch-time' for Rape Crisis Network of Ireland as demand for expertise continues to grow'Crunch-time' for Rape Crisis Network of Ireland as demand for expertise continues to grow

Conference hears 'dogs are treated better than victims of sexual abuse'Conference hears 'dogs are treated better than victims of sexual abuse'

More in this Section

Donohoe has 50/50 chance of getting top Eurogroup job, says MEPDonohoe has 50/50 chance of getting top Eurogroup job, says MEP

Gyms in Northern Ireland set to reopen following Covid-19 lockdownGyms in Northern Ireland set to reopen following Covid-19 lockdown

Mary Lou McDonald settles with ex-Fianna Fáil TD over alleged defamatory tweetMary Lou McDonald settles with ex-Fianna Fáil TD over alleged defamatory tweet

CAB seize over €66k in cash and a car as part of investigation into crime groupCAB seize over €66k in cash and a car as part of investigation into crime group


Lifestyle

Is there a natural treatment I could use instead of steroids and antibiotic drops for dry eye?Natural health: I suffer from chronic dry eye

Denise O’Donoghue checks in with several expats affected by the cancellation of shows in BritainIrish actors on the crisis the West End theatre industry faces

This month marks four decades since the release of the classic record that would also be Ian Curtis’s final album with Joy Division. Ed Power chats to a number of Cork music fans about what it meant to themJoy Division: Forty years on from Closer

Last week, I shared my lockdown experience. I asked for a more uniform approach, should there be another lockdown. I explained that I worked mornings. Maybe I should have been more specific: working 8am to 1pm without a break, I gave feedback and covered the curriculum, using our school’s online platform. In the afternoons, I looked after my three kids (all under ten) while my husband worked. It was a challenging time for everyone and the uncertainty around what I should have been doing as a teacher made it harder.Diary of an Irish teacher: I want to get back to work. But I would like to do it safely

More From The Irish Examiner