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Research on sexual consent of UL Law lecturer cited during Dáil Debates

The research of UL law lecturer Dr Susan Leahy has impacted the drafting of a proposed definition of consent into Irish legislation. Dr Leahy’s work was acknowledged on 1st February by An Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald TD during the Dáil Debates on the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015.

“I met with Dr Susan Leahy, one of the experts on this topic who did her PhD on this subject. She has also met with officials from my Department and we have been liaising very carefully and in detail with the Attorney General.”

The work of School of Law Adjunct Professor Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop was also ackowledged during the Debate. The Tánaiste noted that the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (of which Professor O’Malley-Dunlop was formerly CEO) had campaigned for the introduction of a definition of consent into the legislation and acknowledged their efforts in this regard.

Dr Leahy has researched in the area of sexual offences since 2006. Her PhD thesis was entitled ‘The Rules and Realities of Consent in Sexual Offence Cases: Perspectives on Reform’ and considered the substantive and procedural rules relating to proving an absence of consent in sexual offence cases, with particular emphasis on recommendations for the introduction of a statutory definition of consent into Irish sexual offences law. She has published her research in national and international journals including the Irish Criminal Law Journal, The Common Law World Review and the International Journal of Evidence & Proof and has presented her research at national and international conferences, as well as making submissions to the Irish Law Reform Commission and the Department of Justice and working closely with Dublin Rape Crisis Centre to lobby in relation to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015.

Dr Leahy is currently co-authoring a book on sexual offences with department colleague Dr. Margaret Fitzgerald-O’Reilly which will be published by Clarus Press later this year.

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