Tuesday, 22 October 1991
Dáil Éireann Debate
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): As the Deputy will be aware the Family  Laws (Protection of Spouses and Children) Act, 1981, contains important provisions to protect wives against domestic violence. In 1987 my predecessor circulated a Bill to make certain changes in that Act which had been requested by women's organisations — the main change being to enable a protection order to be granted separate from a barring order. That Bill was not proceeded with because the organisations which had campaigned for the change had second thoughts about the particular amendments proposed.
Certain proposals for amendment to the 1981 Act were made by the Law Reform Commission in their report on child sexual abuse. I am considering these recommendations and will consider any other proposals for changing that Act that may be made to me.
I hope to publish shortly a criminal evidence Bill which will deal with the competence and compellability of spouses to give evidence against each other and will facilitate the giving of evidence by children in sexual abuse cases. The Deputy will be aware that under the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act, 1990, which I had the privilege of conducting through the Oireachtas last year, a man who rapes his wife may now be convicted of rape.
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