The right to anonymity in sex offence cases in Ireland
There are variations between UK anonymity laws and those in Ireland as has been highlighted by trials of various TV soap stars in the UK for sex offences. In Ireland, laws prohibit the identification of the rape accused prior to conviction.
Within Irish law, those accused of rape can only be publicly identified if convicted and furthermore if the victim waives his/her right to anonymity and the trial judge allows the accused’s identity to be made known.
Further to analysis of data ranging from 2011 onwards, figures show that 59% of those convicted of sex crimes within the Central Criminal Court are not named in the media post-conviction.
A victim may feel that it should be a personal decision as to whether the accused and convicted has their identity made known to the public, rather than having the decision be left in the hands of a judge.
Other than rape, incest and defilement, sex crimes do not carry automatic pre-conviction anonymity. This creates a situation whereby a violent sexual assault will allow for the identity of the accused to be disclosed, whereas an accused rapist may retain his/her anonymity.
Anonymity in some cases may be retained moreover to protect the identity of the victim as opposed to the convicted.
An examination of UK law has indicated that some victims prefer for the identity of the accused to be made known, as this may lead to further victims coming forward.