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19 May 2022

EDITORIAL: Offaly takes the lead in support for domestic violence strategy

ROTARY

Eoin Sheehan, President of Tullamore Rotary Club presents the submission to Minister Helen McEntee

OFFALY and Tullamore have taken the lead in responding to a Government request for submissions to the National Strategy on Sexual, Domestic and Gender Based Violence.

Last Saturday Tullamore Rotary Club presented its impressive community-based submission to the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee.

The Rotary Club is to be commended on their initiative and hard work in preparing the comprehensive submission.

In all a total of 51 local and county-wide groups took part in the survey which represent over 8,500 people.

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.

Committee Chair with responsibility for the submission, Ronan Berry said “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.

Mr Berry rightly observed 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.

“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 has also been proposed as a pilot town for key initiatives agreed within the strategy.

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