This hole in the law seems to have been flagged since 1990 prior to this case. Since then the state has had 6 ministers for justice Micheal McDowell, John O’Donoghue, Nora Owen, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Pádraig Flynn and Ray Burke. Not one of them acted to address this legal loophole.
The case was well-publicised last year and in October 2005 the Law Society Gazette contained an article by a trainee solicitor highlighting the potential legal fallout.
Asked how no one in Government knew about the case, Mr McDowell admitted it was “strange” that he, and the Government, only learned about it last week when part of the 1935 Act on statutory rape was struck down as unconstitutional.
Shown a copy of the Law Society Gazette last night, Mr McDowell said no one had brought it to his attention.
Now if this is true. It does beg the question why was it not brought to his attention. The legal world is quiet large and there is no way 1 person can keep track of it all. Minister needs his staff to keep him informed. But even if it is not true why did the department not strongly advise on the issue. How come if recommendations had been made to change the law in 1990 that not one of the 6 ministers change the law. The department itself has a lot of questions to answer.