The victim in the Irish criminal process: a journey from dispossession towards partial repossession


  • Shane Kilcommins University of Limerick


victims, state, accused, crime victimology, conscious raising


This article has sought to examine the criminal justice system’s interactions with victims of crime. It is a relationship which has changed irrevocably over time. A significant discontinuity occurred in the nineteenth century when a new architecture of criminal and penal semiotics slowly emerged. An institutional way of knowing interpersonal conflict crystallised, one which reified system relations over personal experiences. It also emphasised new ideals and values such as proportionality, legalism, procedural rationality, equality and uniformity. New commitments, discourses and practices came to the fore in the criminal justice network. In modernity, the problem of criminal wrongdoing became a rationalised domain of action, a site which actively distrusted and excluded ‘non-objective’ truth claims. The state, the law, the accused and the public interest became the principal claims-makers within this institutional and normative arrangement, an arrangement which would dominate criminal and penal relations for the next 150 years. In the last 40 years, the victim has slowly re-emerged as a stakeholder in the criminal process.