Tánaiste backs calls to fund report update on sex abuse

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has backed calls for the Government to find €1m to fund implementation of a 2002 national sexual abuse report, saying a “large-scale” review of the scale of the problem is “worthwhile”.

The former Women’s Council of Ireland chair made the comments amid survivor groups’ concerns over the failure to ensure money is in place for the report. Opposition parties claim existing statistics are “Dickensian”.

In recent weeks, the Government has been criticised over the fact it has yet to make funding available for research to update a Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland survey which was completed 15 years ago.

The Departments of Justice, Health, and Children were, between them, expected to make funding available to ensure an update of the study to examine the full scale of sexual abuse, assault, and rape in Ireland. However, the money has not yet been earmarked.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald noted that the €1m cost is just one fifth of the €5m being made available for the Government’s strategic communications unit. She claimed existing statistics are “so out of date they might as well be from Dickens”.

Ms Fitzgerald yesterday said she supports calls for the research to be properly funded and for the review to take place immediately.

“My own view is I think it would be helpful to have a fairly large scale report similar to SAVI [Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland],” she said.

Ms Fitzgerald said junior minister David Stanton had been meeting with the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and she was confident of developments in relation to undertaking large-scale research.

“I do think that in relation to the changing circumstances in this country, namely the development of pornography, grooming, and harassment, it would be worthwhile having a study at this point,” she said.


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