The Irish Government has moved to disregard historical criminal convictions related to consensual sex between men before homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993. 

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee published a report by a working group established to examine the issue on Wednesday, which contained 95 recommendations regarding the introduction of a statutory scheme to enable the disregard of relevant historic convictions.

The working group stated that all relevant records, including those related to arrests, charges, and prosecutions that did not lead to a conviction, should be included in any scheme to disregard historic records. 

The report recommends that any historic records be amended to state that the arrest, charge, prosecution, or conviction has been disregarded and related to activities that are no longer considered an offense. 

The report additionally recommended that an independent body be established as a first point of contact for those applying to have their records disregarded once the relevant legislation has passed into law. 

It added that in some cases, the State may not hold the records required to support an application for a disregard. 

"The availability of adequate records has been an issue in other jurisdictions. As of November 2022 in England and Wales, 33 applications have been deemed ineligible as there were no police or court records found to disregard," the report stated. 

In cases where there are no records held by the State, applicants will have to make a formal statement. 

There was a clear division within the working group over whether formal statements should be sought, with 51% of participants in favor of such a measure and 47% opposed. 

A primary concern of those opposed to a formal statement was that it could be "unnecessarily re-traumatizing and onerous".

"However, in the absence of such a provision allowing formal statements to be sought, it may not be possible to provide for a disregard when records are absent," the report stated. 

Additionally, the report stated that applications for disregards can be made on behalf of people who have died since homosexuality was decriminalized 30 years ago. 

The report has also recommended that a letter of apology should be issued to successful applicants. 

"This letter should be issued to all successful applicants including those who were arrested, charged, and prosecuted but which did not lead to conviction." 

Speaking after the publication of the report, McEntee said there are many people who still feel "hurt and stigma" by historic laws that criminalized consensual sex between men. 

"Today marks an important moment in our efforts to exonerate those impacted by these outdated laws and address some of the lingering harms of the past," McEntee said in a statement.

"While we cannot undo the hurt inflicted on people who were discriminated against for simply being themselves, I do hope that today’s report brings us closer to something that can address the harm done to generations of gay and bisexual men."