Legal system and a changing society
Sir, – The two examples cited in the article “How #MeToo is influencing rape trials in Ireland” (Analysis, January 21st) which purport to highlight how the legal system has been slow to respond to changes in our society are in fact examples of a legislature which was behind the times.
The Oireachtas could have amended the Juries Act 1927 throughout the intervening decades to allow women without exception serve on a jury, but it took a legal challenge and a progressive Supreme Court to strike it down as unconstitutional and force the Oireachtas to legislate.
Similarly, the Oireachtas could and should have legislated to make it illegal for a man to rape his wife, long before 1990, yet it did not.
This trend continues to this day. The Judicial Council Bill, which will provide guidelines to the judiciary, could help address some of the concerns raised since the beginning of the #Metoo campaign, but this Bill has been lying idle at second stage in the Seanad since November 2017.
The legal system may be slow at times to change its traditions, but it is the Oireachtas which operates on a different timescale to the rest of society. – Yours, etc,