This advice paper builds on research and practice in other jurisdictions. It also draws upon discussions with a wide range of stakeholders in the Irish justice system.
A person may experience communication difficulties as a result of disability, age or other factors, which may mean that they encounter barriers to accessing justice. Article 13 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities obliges States Parties to ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others, including through the provision of procedural and age-appropriate accommodations. The NDA advises that a Registered Intermediaries Scheme be established in order to realise this important aspect of Article 13.
The role of the intermediary is to facilitate communication at all stages of the justice process, from the Garda station to the court room, between a person with significant communication difficulties and others in the justice system.
The statutory basis for the provision of an intermediary appears in the Criminal Evidence Act 1992, and reiterated in the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017.
The paper makes a number of recommendations around the creation, development and implementation of a Registered Intermediaries Scheme. Such a scheme is currently under development by the Department of Justice, in collaboration with the University of Limerick.
The NDA Advice Paper: The Use of Intermediaries in the Irish Justice System