An urgent forum to address the number of sexual assaults of college-students must be convened the Dáil has been told.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called on the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan to set up a forum involving the Rape Crisis Centre, the Garda Commissioner and the leaders of third-level institutions following a number of rapes in Cork.
Raising an "alarming" Irish Examiner report which revealed that three first-year students have been raped in Cork since the start of the academic year, Mr Martin said similar incidents are happening across the country.
He said there is evidence that shows that this is a "phenomenon" and that September and October when students begin college can be the "most dangerous time" for young women.
"Freshers week or during that whole first month, people are vulnerable and we can't just read these reports and just not respond, we need a comprehensive, urgent and different way," he told the Dáil
Referring to the assaults in Cork, Mr Martin said: "The young women involved were between 18 and 19 years of age.
"The most alarming fact is that the three women did not feel they could go to the Gardaí because of the circumstances of the assault and the rape.
"They felt it was their own fault as alcohol is involved. Two of the three women have already dropped out of college."
Responding, Minister Flanagan said he shared the Fianna Fáil leader's concern and urged any victims of sexual assault to report these crimes to the gardaí.
"I believe there is merit in making contact with the management teams in our third-level colleges," he said.