Nine out of ten people believe policing of sexual offences must be top priority – Carroll MacNeill

-   Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, TD

A fundamental rethink is needed in our approach to gender-based and sexual violence, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Dún Laoghaire TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill was speaking following the publication yesterday of An Garda Síochána’s 2019 Public Attitudes Survey.

Deputy Carroll MacNeill, who is Vice-Chair of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, said, “According to the survey of 6,000 respondents, 97% of them believe that the policing of sexual offences needs to be the Gardaí’s top priority. This was the case regardless of age, gender, social class or nationality.

“A staggeringly large proportion of respondents indicated their belief that sexual offences should be a top priority for An Garda Síochána. It is completely understandable, yet deeply concerning, that the issue of sexual offences is of such concern to so many people. The results reflect the devastating impact sexual offences have on people’s mental, physical and emotional health.

“The report also highlights how young people today are equally concerned about sexual assault and violence. 96% of the cohort of 16 and 17-year-old respondents were also of the opinion that sexual offences should be the Gardaí’s top focus.

“This highlights the need for a radical review of the sexual and relationship education curriculum in our schools. Further sexual consent education and classes are also urgently needed, as much to educate for the future and prevent incidents of such offences, but also so that we can expand and develop the conversations we have about this issue.

“Sexual violence, assault and rape are huge gender issues. Victims of such offences are predominantly girls and women and the consequences of this are wide-reaching in the underpinning of gender inequality in our society. However, this is not exclusively a gender issue and it is important to remember that men can also be victim to sexual violence.

“This is an historically underreported area. A better approach for victim recognition and support is urgently needed.

“I welcome the important and urgent work my colleague, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, TD, is currently undertaking. She has met with numerous representative groups and has prioritized the provision of supports for vulnerable witnesses in sexual offence cases.

“She is working to quickly develop the Implementation Programme in order to expedite the response to the O’Malley report. It is clear that the Minister and the Government are taking this issue as seriously as the general public feel about it.” Deputy Carroll MacNeill concluded.

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