Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has committed to bringing preparators of domestic and sexual violence to justice in her strategic plan published today, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill welcomes the prioritisation of combatting domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, as well as sexual consent, in the Department of Justice’s ‘Justice Plan 2021’.
The Dún Laoghaire TD said “Minister McEntee has outlined her clear objective in tackling sexual violence; bringing perpetrators to justice and ensuring that victims know they will be supported.
“The needs of victims are at the centre of the approach to combatting domestic and sexual violence. A new Sexual Offences Bill will be published which will strengthen protections for victims of these offences.
“The Department will also work to remove the fear many victims have of coming forward to report incidents of sexual and domestic violence, which is very important in the context of extremely low levels of reporting of sexual assault.
“Minister McEntee has also committed to the full implementation of Supporting a Victim’s Journey, the plan to reform the criminal justice system at every point a victim or vulnerable witness encounters it.
“The implementation of this plan will work towards progressing the recommendations set out by the O’Malley Report published last summer.
“I know that the issue of sexual and domestic violence is of huge concern to Irish people. According to An Garda Síochána’s 2019 Public Attitudes Survey, 97% of respondents believe that the policing of sexual offences needs to be the Gardaí’s top priority.
“The importance of this issue also highlights the need for a radical review of the sexual and relationship education curriculum in our schools, which I have called for previously. Sexual consent education must be at the top of this agenda.
“’Justice Plan 2021’ recognises the significance of the role education plays in combatting sexual violence, and I very much welcome the commitment to launch a national information campaign on the meaning of consent, as well as a targeted campaign for higher education.
“This is needed as much to educate for the future and prevent incidents of sexual violence offences, but also so that we can expand the conversations we have about this issue.
“Today’s announcement shows that the Minister and the Government are taking these issues as seriously as the general public feel about them, and I look forward to following the progression of the policies outlined in the Department’s action plan over the coming months,” Deputy Carroll MacNeill concluded.