Not yet too late to introduce proposed sexual and domestic violence protections

Naomi Long
Naomi Long

Justice Minister Naomi Long has said it is not yet too late to bring forward a delayed bill on widely-supported proposals to abolish the so-called “rough sex” defence, strengthen the law around image-based sexual abuse and widen the scope of the law on abuse of trust.

The Justice (Miscellaneous) Provisions Bill has been ready since early May but has yet to be introduced to Stormont due to a political deadlock on the Northern Ireland Executive.

Mrs Long told MLAs yesterday that the deadline to introduce and progress the bill within the current Assembly mandate “has effectively already passed”, but that it could still make it through on a “truncated” process with the goodwill of the Speaker and the justice committee.

She said: “I remain hopeful that good sense and responsible stewardship will, even at this late stage, enable me to introduce the bill and secure its passage in the remainder of this mandate. We are rapidly approaching a point of no return, however.”

The justice minister added that “one of the rather weak excuses for not passing the Justice Bill through the Executive was the fear that people would add to it”, and it was unhelpful for MLAs to suggest further amendments to the bill.