Senator calls for gender quotas among judges

Senator Mark Daly
Senator Mark Daly

Senator Mark Daly sparked a row in Seanad √Čireann as he called for gender quotas among judges in order to tackle their “unfair bias” towards survivors of sexual assault.

Mr Daly told the Seanad that the judicial ranks were “full of white, middle-aged, conservative men” who “hand down appalling sentences based on prejudice to a large degree, unfortunately”.

He referred to a “horrific case during the week where a non-custodial sentence was applied in a rape case” and said he wanted to open a debate on gender quotas and judicial appointments.

His proposals include mandatory training for barristers, solicitors and members of the judiciary in order to understand the lasting impact of sexual violence.

In a longer statement published on his website, he said: “The typical middle-aged, conservative male judge has held the majority for too long on the bench.

“This type of judge is unconsciously biased in their approach to sexual abuse, in some instances showing lack of consideration for the female victim. They pass judgment on women, victims of child abuse and minorities on a daily basis.

“It is no surprise, then, that 69% of the Irish population are unsatisfied with our sentencing in recent years.”

However, other senators urged him to respect a separation of the judiciary and government.

Ivana Bacik, constitutional lawyer and deputy leader of the Seanad, said there had been a “huge improvement” over recent years and that a third of Ireland’s judges are women.

Ms Bacik added: “There is a provision for the DPP to appeal on grounds of undue leniency and this has been used on a number of cases.”

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