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Dublin: 20°C Thursday 18 August 2022

Nine in 10 people believe a person's underwear should not be discussed in a rape case

A barrister’s comments sparked outrage and led to protests last week.

THE VAST MAJORITY of people believe a person’s underwear should not be discussed during a court case relating to rape.

An opinion poll conducted by Ámarach Research for Claire Byrne Live earlier today asked over 1,000 adults, ‘Do you believe that there is ever a good reason to discuss the style of clothing/underwear of a complainant in a rape case?’

Almost nine in 10 people (88%) said No, 7% said Yes, and 5% said Don’t Know.


The topic has been discussed in recent days after a defence barrister in a rape trial asked a jury in Cork to take into account that the 17-year-old complainant was wearing a lace thong on the night in question.

The defendant in the case was found not guilty.

‘Rape myths’

The barrister’s comments sparked outrage and led to protests, which made international headlines, as well as Solidarity–People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger holding up a thong in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions last Wednesday. 

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Coppinger said it was time for “rape myths” to be dispelled, adding that a person’s choice in clothing does not equate to consent. She called for more training among the legal profession in this regard.

Speaking on Tonight with Claire Byrne, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and rape survivor Leona O’Callaghan both said they disagreed with a person’s choice of underwear being discussed during a rape trial.

Flanagan said the practice was “inappropriate”, while Leona said it was “one step away from saying [a claimant] was asking for it”. 

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Órla Ryan

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