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26 Jun 2022

Tullamore Rotary Club makes submission to strategy aimed at tackling gender based violence

Tullamore Rotary Club makes submission to strategy aimed at tackling gender based violence

TULLAMORE & District Rotary Club has co-ordinated a community response to the Draft National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence (DSGBV).

A total of 51 civil and societal organisations including industry, sporting, religious, law enforcement and educational groups, NGOs and aid agencies responded to the survey.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee met members of Rotary and representatives from the contributing organisations to officially launch the submission on Saturday morning last in Tullamore.

The Minister said she had last been in the area following the brutal murder of Ashling Murphy in January which she described as “an extraordinarily difficult time.”

Among the community and sporting groups representatives at the launch was Sharon Doyle, Chairperson of Kilcormac/ Killoughey camogie club, of which the late Ashling had been a playing member.

Ms Doyle told the Tribune they were honoured to be asked to participate in the survey at a time she described as a “griefing period” for Ashling.

Rotary President Professor Eoin Sheehan said the “club recognises and acknowledges that there is a need for major change to ensure an end to incidences of domestic, sexual and gender based violence, and for a strategy that will be delivered quickly and effectively.”

Committee Chair Ronan Berry, who was Master of Cermonies at the launch, noted “this response is a true representation of the voice of our community. Our community wants to be front and centre in ensuring that the third National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence works and creates a safer society for women.

“Issues relating to gender based violence, in particular violent and aggressive behaviour towards women, are unfortunately continuing to dominate news headlines on a daily basis. This strategy needs to be the sea change in attitudes and behaviours in Irish society.”

He added that in an ideal world change would have already happened and incidences of domestic, sexual and gender based violence against women would be a thing of the past.  “Here and now is the best time available to us all to take action. The third National Strategy on Domestic Sexual and Gender Based Violence presents an opportunity for this generation to affect real change for all future generations.”

Mr Berry said the strategy will be  built on four pillars: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Policy Coordination. Its goal is clear -  zero tolerance of violence and abuse against women.

“The survey which forms the basis of our submission asked the 51 participating organisations questions around the pillars of  Prevention, Protection and  Prosecution. Our results show strong support in favour of a blend of measures focussed on prevention and protection. The view of the group is split as to whether the proposed strategy has the correct blend of actions currently, indicating how difficult this balance will be to find.”

In the Protection Pillar, the outstanding finding was that more should be done for victims, both male and female, that come forward.

In the third Pillar, Prosecution, there was strong agreement amongst groups with the majority agreeing existing legislation around sexual violence and domestic violence is inadequate.

He concluded: “The response recognises that this issue cannot be solved by policy alone and dozens of groups in the town have agreed to participate in real ways, be it a community-based project, school based initiative or national awareness campaign.”

This group’s response calls for the establishment of a cross-Departmental High Level Implementation Committee.

This approach will ensure effective delivery of the strategy by ensuring coordination between the myriad state bodies and groups focussed on this critical area.

Tullamore is proposed as a pilot town for key initiatives agreed within the strategy.

The club believes this response recognises that this issue cannot be solved by policy alone and dozens of groups in the town have agreed to participate in real ways, be it a community-based project or national awareness campaign.

Professor Sheehan said the club were deeply honoured to have the Minister for Justice come to Tullamore to launch their submission.

The Minister said 'everybody is now focussed” on this issue and the Government is working in tandem with different organisations to make a difference and bring about change.

She said it was very important that the Rotary Club had brought a huge range of organisations on board who wanted to have their voices heard.

Ms McEntee revealed the strategy would have a particular focus on younger people with an emphasis on the issue of consent.

She stressed the importance of a proper oversight system being put in place to ensure that the strategy's recommendations were implemented in full and without delay.

The need for refuges and other supports to be located in all areas of the country was also emphasised by the Minister.

Representatives of organisations that took part in the survey identified themselves at the conclusion of the launch and expressed support for the strategy.

Siobhan Conroy, from Tullamore Credit Union, said some of their 35,000 members and 70 staff took part in the survey while Ann Clarke of Offaly Domestic Violence Support Service commended the Minsiter for her presence at the launch.

In a statement released in tandem with the launch the Rotary Club stressed it is committed to bringing about real change with regard to gender-based violence.

“In recent times the club has become aware of the impact gender based violence has in our community, locally and nationally. There must be zero-tolernace of DSGBV and of unequal power relations resulting in coercive control and sexual violence, against women in particular.”

Main findings

The findings show strong support (70.6%) in favour of a blend of measures focussed on prevention and protection. The view of the group is split as to whether the proposed strategy has the correct blend of actions currently, indicating how difficult this balance will be to find. Due to the importance of the issue, this group felt that an awareness campaign aimed at the broadest spread of target audiences is essential; however a focus on the next generation would be desirable and should be prioritised.

In the protection pillar, the outstanding finding was that more should be done for victims, both male and female, that come forward. This necessitates more training and resources for those involved in engaging with victims. This process must be streamlined and benchmarked so victims are dealt with sensitively and as a result, others are more likely to step forward.

In pillar 3, prosecution, there was strong agreement amongst groups with the majority agreeing that existing legislation around sexual violence and domestic violence is inadequate. In summary, we see this strategy as a once in a generation opportunity for this generation to support the next generation. This is our chance to make society safer and more caring for people and we should take it.

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