RCNI calls on the next government to take action to make it “Safe to Learn” thus ensuring the safety of young people from sexual violence in secondary schools

RCNI Press Release 20th February 2016

RCNI calls on the next government to take action to make it “Safe to Learn” thus ensuring the safety of young people from sexual violence in secondary schools

All children and young people should have the opportunity to learn in a safe environment. Safety includes freedom from the threat, fear or fact of all forms of sexual violence, and there is a statutory obligation to ensure same; however, we are currently not meeting that obligation.

RCNI’s 2016 Manifesto outlines three steps necessary to meet these obligations:

  1. Introducing a national policy for all secondary schools of proactive, zero tolerance towards sexual violence
  2. National guidelines and policy for schools to fully support victims and alleged abusers in schools
  3. Comprehensive, mandatory best practice curriculum content

Dr. Clíona Saidléar, Strategic & Programme Executive, RCNI said, “Our work in rape crisis centres working with child survivors proves that sexual harassment, threat, fear and indeed sexual assault is experienced by children in our schools. Unfortunately, no research exists to define the scale and extent of this problem; instead we are relying on the individual testimony of children and young people attending rape crisis centres.

“Therefore, the next government must urgently build an understanding of the challenge that exists, while supporting schools to proactively address the issue. And we must also empower children through effective, evidence-based interventions.”

Dr. Saidléar said, “School communities need to explicitly promote zero tolerance of sexual harassment and violence. In the absence of a zero tolerance approach, the RCNI analysis is that a comprehensive sexual violence policy is lost between the Action Plan on Bullying, which fails to address sexual harassment and violence (bar cyberbullying), and Children First, which addresses how individual incidents are effectively reported to and handled by the authorities but does not prevent them from happening in the first place. We must do all we can to prevent crimes of sexual violence, from happening, and we have a duty to our children to ensure that they are safe to learn.”

“We fear that in this absence, what children learn is to minimise, laugh off, deny, or indeed to tolerate sexual violence, either as a perpetrator or target.”

Secondly, RCNI is clear that post-primary schools face significant challenges in responding to the complex support and care needs of child victims and indeed child perpetrators in their school community, which are inadequately addressed in Children First. Given the centrality of the school community in a teenager’s life, national guidance needs to be put in place to assist schools to support child victims and aggressors, reducing instances of secondary trauma and preventing negative impacts on their school performance. This will support an appropriate justice response through Children First actions.

Thirdly, RCNI’s 2014 report, Young People, Alcohol and sex: What’s consent got to do with it?[1], a qualitative study of college students’ understanding of sexual consent and alcohol consumption demonstrated that young people themselves concluded that they lacked preparedness to negotiate consent safely, leaving them vulnerable to sexual violence.

Dr. Saidléar said: “Curriculum content needs to address consent, and we very much welcome the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence’s commitment here, but urge consideration of how the “safe to learn” goal can be met when curriculum content of such importance remains optional. Making schools safe to learn must be a government-led priority for any incoming Minister for Education.”

END

RCNI’s election manifesto can be found on http://www.rcni.ie/wp-content/uploads/RCNI-Manifesto-Final.pdf

 

[1] Young people, alcohol and sex: What’s Consent got to do with it?, Padraig Mac Neela, NUIG, 2014

RCNI PR – grooming and teenage sexual exploitation

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) Press Release

 

12th January 2016

 

Our ambiguity about sex can create opportunity for sexual exploitation

 

Today, upon the sentencing of a 26 year old man for online grooming and defilement of a 15 year old girl, the RCNI draw attention to our attitudes to teenage vulnerability to sexual predators.

 

Clíona Saidlear, head of RCNI said, ‘the grooming of children, including teenagers, for sex is a serious offence. Grooming is a weapon that most cruelly uses the victim against themselves. A predator in grooming seeks to make the victim active and blameworthy of the crime being committed against them. It is critical that we challenge grooming by ensuring we consistently identify and condemn grooming, placing the blame where it belongs, on the predator.

 

RCNI welcome the new offences of online grooming which are being brought in under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015. This much anticipated Bill which is in the Seanad again this Thursday before moving to the Dail, is now urgently needed to bring our laws up to date with changing technology and opportunity for predators.

 

Ms Saidléar continued, ‘In order to support vulnerable young people we must be clear about the difference between non-abusive behaviour and grooming. We must not shy away from naming sexual exploitation and our duty to intervene and protect, under due process, for fear of offending or seeming overbearing. We can lessen a predator’s opportunity to sexually exploit a child, and empower the child targeted in this manner, if we are clear on these issues.’

 

Ends

 

Further information

Clíona Saidléar 0872196447

RCNI welcome EU Vicitms’ Directive transposition as a good day for survivors but cautions on inadequate resourcing

RCNI welcome EU Vicitms’ Directive transposition as a good day for survivors but cautions on inadequate resourcing.

Today, the 16th of November, is a historic day for survivors of sexual violence as the European Victims’ Directive comes into force in Ireland putting significant extra obligations on the Irish State in what RCNI describe as a ‘win win’ situation.

Clíona Saidléar head of Rape Crisis Network Ireland said, ‘today marks a historic moment in transforming our culture and responses to sexual violence survivors and all survivors of crime so that they are supported and respected, in joined-up ways, both inside and outside the justice process.

‘This Directive gives all survivors, whether they report the crime or not, a set of additional rights. These rights include a right to access free and specialist support services such as Rape Crisis Centres which must now be adequately funded. Importantly under this Directive, survivors will have these additional rights whether they choose to report the crime to the authorities or not. We must now ensure survivors are informed, at the earliest possible opportunity, about what is theirs by right.

‘We call on government to ensure our capacity to meet survivors’ needs in the manner obligated by the Directive. We continue to engage with the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald and her team who are finalising the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2015 but we also urge the Minister to pay attention to the resource implications of the Directive as we fear current allocations are inadequate.

Caroline Counihan, RCNI Legal Director said, ‘addressing delay and training is what is going to make this Directive really work for survivors. No matter whom survivors interact with, from first responders right through the criminal justice system, they should receive a consistent and excellent response from that person or agency, one that hears them, respects their rights and dignity and works professionally and diligently to meet their needs. 

‘What we know is that treating survivors well means better investigations, survivors staying with the criminal justice process and ultimately more perpetrators held to account. This is a win win change for victims in our legal system.

‘With this Directive we are essentially moving to a criminal justice system where the victim has   additional rights which neither  the  State nor the person accused will be able to ignore, in the course of investigative and court proceedings. These rights should reduce the levels of fear and re-traumatisation experienced by victims of sexual violence as they go through each stage of the criminal justice process, and for this reason also are very much welcomed.

Notes:

·         Link to the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32012L0029&from=EN

·         Rape Crisis Centres have seen their funding cut by up to 30% over the years since 2008

·         RCNI funding from Tusla was cut in its entirety by Tusla in 2015. That money has not been redistributed to centres.  Centres have not received funding to support the policy, standards, training and guidance requirements upon then to be compliant with the law and contract conditions, neither have they received resources to collect data in the manner required of them by the funder (Tusla), all of which were previously supported by the RCNI for member centres.

·         A significant increase in demand on services is anticipated from the directive being implemented with much more effective referrals from all agencies, so far there is no indication from the funder or government that there will be a corresponding increase in funding.

 

Ends

For information

Clíona Saidléar

0872196447

Rare Marital Rape Conviction welcomed by RCNI who issue caution on culture excuses for sexual violence

30th November 2015

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) Press Release

 

Rare Marital Rape Conviction welcomed by RCNI who issue caution on culture excuses for sexual violence

 

RCNI welcomes the marital rape conviction of the 53 year old man who has been given a six year sentence in the Central Criminal Court today.

 

Dr Clíona Saidléar, Head of RCNI said, “RCNI welcome this rare marital rape conviction. Rape and sexual violence by partners is a significant problem that is highly under reported and prosecuted. For 15% of adult survivors using Rape Crisis services in 2014 the abuser was a partner or ex-partner. We know Domestic Violence services also support many survivors of Sexual Violence within relationships.

 

“Marital rape often follows a pattern of serial and persistent abuse as part of more general abuse over a long period of time. This conviction should be a clear signal to the perpetrators of these crimes that this is a crime and it will not be tolerated. No excuse of cultural ignorance or normalization of sexual violence against one’s spouse can be tolerated in our justice system and should be given short shrift in any court case should such a plea be made. It is vital that survivors past and current of such abuse are supported and hear a clear message that what is happening to them is a crime and will be responded to appropriately.”

 

Note: Martial rape was made illegal relatively recently in 1991 and has seen only a handful of convictions since then.

 

For more information, please contact Clíona Saidlear on 0872196447.

 

ENDS

Any cuts to Tusla will affect victims of sex assault and rape

Any cuts to Tusla will affect victims of sex assault and rape.

Irish Examiner opinion piece.
A leaked Tusla (the Child and Family Agency) briefing to a Cabinet subcommittee regarding the Agency being ‘in default of statutory obligations‘ due to a lack of resources, prompted its Chief Executive, Mr. Gordon Jeyes, to make a number of public statements on rte.

Those statements highlighted a serious question about how an agency whose overriding priority is child protection can champion and support adult survivors and services for predominantly women experiencing violence.

What we learnt was that half of all Tusla cuts to date have been made to their community and voluntary sector spending (they control the statutory funding of sexual and domestic violence services and family resource centres). Further Mr. Jeyes stated that the domestic violence and rape crisis sectors will be the targets of further cuts should the government not meet Tusla’s child protection and early intervention funding demands.

But cutting the domestic and sexual violence sector would not gain Tusla the funding it requires to make up its deficits in child protection, estimated by Tusla at €132m over a three year period. The sexual and domestic violence sector, of 60 services nationwide, represents only 3% of the overall Tusla budget at an annual €19m out of €635m.

So why, if it won’t deliver the necessary funds, are sexual violence victims’ services being threatened with these cuts? That is a question we cannot answer.

What we can say is that pitching survivors of sexual violence against child protection is unfair, degrading and heartbreaking. The protection of children from becoming victims is vital. Treating with dignity those survivors of past failures of the state to protect children and responding to their needs is vital. Making survivors and survivors’ organizations argue for one over the other option is unjust. Yet this is precisely what Mr. Jeyes articulated over the weekend.

However, before we rush to judgment we might note that this competition was inevitable when the government set up Tusla. Sexual and domestic violence services, for predominantly adults and predominantly women, were transferred from the HSE to Tusla: the Child and Family Agency.

It was clear from the start that child protection would be the biggest ‘driver’ within the Agency and that the Agency was underfunded. Yet no safeguards, such as ring-fencing the funding of vulnerable organizations at the furthest edges of the Agency’s priorities, were put in place. That adult survivors’ dignity and needs would inevitably be threatened in the interest of preventing children today becoming the survivors of tomorrow, was therefore tragically predictable.

Sexual violence remains, despite 40 years of the feminist movement and considerable advances, an issue shrouded in silences. We estimate 80% of survivors do not choose to engage with the state. It is all too easy to say those silences exist because of regressive cultural attitudes and survivor ‘failings’. Often overlooked is the institutional and structural failings and discriminations that sets the context for survivors’ choices and shape a response from the State that continues to fall woefully short.

The only viable path towards the transformation needed to end sexual violence involves treating survivors with dignity and respect. Survivors, whether adults or children, are whole human beings with rights undiminished by the choice a perpetrator made to target them for a crime. Yet all too often survivors suffer from limitations, fears and consequences that do impinge on their freedoms, their mental health and their choices.

Services for survivors of sexual violence are not luxury extras, indeed the area needs increased investment. The EU Victims’ Directive comes into force on the 16th of November bringing a wide range of legal obligations, including providing free services to victims (article 8(3)). Despite government rhetoric Tusla will struggle to honour these obligations.

It must now be clear to government that an agency, with a remit in child and family welfare which is operating in a funding crisis cannot champion adult survivors of sexual violence. Tusla Director, Gordon Jeyes has as good as said as much and we welcome his honesty.

It is imperative that the Government actively and critically challenges the State’s institutional and structural discrimination against survivors of sexual violence. A Minister making that commitment to leadership needs the input and analysis of experts and specialists without whose engagement the State, as demonstrated, will sleepwalk its way into colluding with the diminishing of a survivor’s rights. Unfortunately, unless things change, that writing is already on the wall.

Cliona Saidlear, PhD, RCNI Strategic and Programme Executive

The Irish Examiner, 13/10/2015

RCNI welcome the publication of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offices) Bill but express disappointment at a lack of definition of consent.

RCNI strongly welcome the publication of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offices) Bill and commend Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald but express disappointment at a lack of definition of consent.

Clíona Saidléar, RCNI Acting Director said, ‘This long awaited legislation is one of the most important advances in the legal framework around sexual violence crimes in recent years. There is much here to commend. However, RCNI are disappointed that no definition of consent, a concept which is pivotal to sexual offences, has not been included in this important legislation.

‘Everything we know about sexual violence and today’s culture tells us we cannot assume a common understanding of consent, therefore it must be defined in law. The consequence of not defining consent may be that we leave grey areas for perpetrators of sexual crimes to get away with their crimes and we leave victims much too vulnerable to invasive questioning as to their behavior and character. The law must do its utmost to protect victims from unjust blame and silencing. We would urge the legislature to insert a definition of consent into this Bill.’

Caroline Counihan, RCNI Legal Director said, ‘we are constantly reminded of the devastation caused to children by sexual violence. A large part of this violence begins with “grooming” behaviours which do not always fit in to the existing categories of offences. The laws must fit the realities of today’s childhood. The introduction of a new offence of grooming of children including grooming via social media and otherwise through the use of information technology is very welcome.

‘RCNI welcomes the introduction of a statutory regime to regulate disclosure of counselling records relating to victims, in criminal proceedings. The survivor- therapist relationship is one which supports healing and recovery. It is a relationship of trust where survivors can find a uniquely safe space to talk about intimate, personal and perhaps frightening matters.

The Bill means that a judge will decide whether and/or to what extent, any disclosure of therapist notes will be allowed, and in doing so, s/he will take into account the public interest in preserving the confidentiality of such intimate and personal records, as well as the right of the accused to a fair trial.’

RCNI look forward to reading the Bill in detail and responding more comprehensively in the days to come.

For information

Cliona Saidlear

0872196447

Notes:

  • Please see www.rcni.ie under publications and submission for a range of RCNI documentation which contributed in detail to the contents of this Bill.
  • RCNI is also a member of Turn off the Red light the campaign to introduce the criminalisation of the buyer of sex.

RCNI responds to Minister Reilly’s response to Joan Collins, TD Priority Question and Ruth Coppinger TD’s in the Dail

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) Press Release

8th July 2015

RCNI responds to Minister Reilly’s response to Joan Collins, TD Priority Question and Ruth Coppinger TD’s in the Dail

RCNI welcomes the questions put to Minister for Children James Reilly by Joan Collins, TD and Ruth Coppinger TD during today’s Priority Questions about removal of RCNI core funding by Tusla.

In her questions, Deputy Collins alluded to the role of RCNI and made the case that the Tusla cannot replace the role of the RCNI.

Minister Reilly maintained that funding provided to RCNI by Tusla was to develop and maintain a database of information recorded by workers in rape crisis centres.

In response, RCNI Acting Director Dr. Clíona Saidléar said: “First and foremost, RCNI’s purpose, for which it has received core funding since 1997, is primarily to represent the interests of survivors of sexual violence, ensure their voices are heard and to work towards solutions for prevention of sexual violence for the whole of society. Data collection is therefore a vital tool needed to achieve these objectives, not our core purpose.”

Minster Reilly also repeated his claim that Tusla has undertaken a comprehensive review of sexual and domestic violence services in consultation with service providers in order to identify strategic priorities and to set out a roadmap for the future delivery of these services. Presumably the decision to cease funding the RCNI arises out of that review. RCNI wishes to confirm Deputy Collins’ statement that at no point was such a review made available to us or indeed the subject service providers. We would ask the Minster to confirm whether he has seen that review.

In response to concerns raised by Minister Reilly that this database did not capture information from all 16 rape crisis centres, Dr Saidlear said:

“RCNI data and knowledge information system data is the collective voice of survivors attending Rape Crisis Centres, which provides the necessary evidence base to continue work to end sexual violence. 15 of 16 centres used the RCNI data system which was more than sufficient for our purposes of survivors’ experiences informing change.

“As we advised Tusla, it is their responsibility to ensure compliance of the services they fund to meet Tusla’s need for comprehensive operational administrative data which can then be easily delivered from the RCNI system. Tusla choose not to act in this way to enhance national planning towards meeting its objective of national service development.

“It should also be noted that prior to the inception of Tusla, 15 of the 16 Rape Crisis Centres used the RCNI data, knowledge and information system. Since Tusla took over, fragmentation, new gaps and duplication are arising not only in data collection but elsewhere.”

Minister Reilly said that Tusla has undertaken to take on the responsibility to develop and maintain a database as “a priority”. Tusla previously informed RCNI that they were taking over the collection of data for their purposes in January 2015. To date, over six months later, no new system is in place. Tusla in response to recent queries have said they have begun ‘scoping’ the ‘many complex issues associated’.

Dr. Cliona Saidléar said:

“It is now July, and Tusla have not produced a data collection system for Rape Crisis Centres and there is, to date, no timeline on this that we are aware of. As we have advised Tusla and the Minister, the complex issues Tusla are currently grappling with, in our expert opinion, will inevitably deliver partial and inadequate data collection and not the more ‘complete’ data to which the Minister refers.

“Tusla can either collect a much reduced and minimal set of information which will not provide the necessary information for challenging a rape supportive culture or for reducing levels of sexual violence or give survivors the independent and strong voice that the RCNI system provides. Or Tusla can attempt to collect personal information which, as the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has flagged, may in fact be in breach of the Data Protection (amendment) Act 2003 and require new legislation. Given the nature of sexual violence in our culture and the ongoing lack of safety that the majority of survivors continue to feel in disclosing and reporting the crimes, a statutory database of such sensitive personal data is highly problematic given the majority of RCC users choose not to report to the Gardaí as is their right.

“In addition when Minister Reilly questions the reliability of the RCNI system under Dail privilege, this implicates RCNI and the staff and volunteers in 15 RCCs who guarantee the reliability and standard of information going in and the external academics who verify and certify the analysis and reliability of the data coming out.”

Dr Saidléar continued:

“The RCNI data collection system, which has been successfully collecting information given to us by survivors for over ten years, is non-statutory and has data protection measures in place which commit to honour the rights, privacy and choices of survivors, including those 66% of survivors who choose not to go to the Gardaí. We therefore feel that Tusla, by its nature as a statutory agency cannot and indeed should not attempt to move such personal data into the control of the state.”

 We continue to welcome a meeting with Minister Reilly on these matters.

Ends

For further information, please contact Clíona on 0872196447

Letter of support from Academics calling for reinstatement of RCNI funding

Dear Sir,

 

Sexual violence continues to be one of the most serious challenges for our society. The paucity of data on this issue, particularly of a survivor-centered nature, highlights the considerable gaps in knowledge that currently exist. There can also be considerable difficulty in conducting good quality, robust research as a result. In recent years, we the undersigned have, in partnership with and made possible by Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI), had the opportunity to engage in research, learning and sharing on this issue, some of which has been truly ground-breaking. 

 

As academics, researchers and partners of RCNI, we call on the Irish government to reinstate the funding for this essential and unique resource, which helps to bridge the gap between academic expertise, emerging sexual violence issues and survivors. The continuing provision of high quality national data not available elsewhere in Ireland is of utmost importance in this regard.

 

Ailbhe Smith, Former Head of Women’s Studies, UCD

Dr. Conor Hanly, Lecturer, School of Law, NUI Galway

Dr. Cris M. Sullivan, Director, MSU Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence, Michigan State University

Dr. Debra Patterson, Associate Professor, Wayne State University

Dr. Deirdre Healy, Lecturer, Sutherland School of Law, UCD

Dr. Eilionóir Flynn, Deputy Director, Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway

Dr. Eimear Spain, Lecturer, School of Law, University of Limerick

Dr. Fergus Hogan, Co-ordinator, Centre for Social and Family Research, Waterford Institute of Technology

Dr. Jennifer Yeager, Lecturer in Psychology, School of Humanities, Waterford Institute of Technology

Dr. Liz Kelly, Director, Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit, London Metropolitan University

Dr. Marie Keenan, College Lecturer, School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, UCD

Dr. Maureen Lyons, Researcher and Research Manager, School of Social Justice, UCD

Dr. Pádraig MacNeela, Lecturer, Department of Psychology, NUI Galway

Dr. Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, Senior Lecturer, School of Health Sciences, NUI Galway

Dr. Stacey Scriver, Research Associate, Centre for Global Women’s Studies, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway

Dr. Susan Leahy, Lecturer, School of Law, University of Limerick

Helen Bartlett L.LM, Irish Centre for Human Rights

Professor Shane Kilcommins, Head of School of Law, University of Limerick

RCNI welcomes motion to reinstate government funding and looks forward to meeting Minister Reilly

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) Press Release

2nd July 2015

RCNI welcomes motion to reinstate government funding and looks forward to meeting Minister Reilly

A motion calling on the Government to immediately reinstate funding for Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI), tabled by Independent Councillor Catherine Connolly and passed by the Regional Health Forum West will now be sent to Minister James Reilly for his urgent attention. Councillor Connolly said she very much welcomed the unanimous and overwhelming cross-party support for the motion from elected members on the Regional Health Forum, from Donegal to Tipperary, which was the result, she said, of urgent and repeated representations from the community in relation to the government withdrawal of funding from RCNI.

RCNI would like to thank Councillor Connolly for tabling the motion at the Regional Health Forum West meeting held in Merlin Park last Tuesday, and is grateful for the support of councillors throughout the West of Ireland in its bid to have its core funding reinstated.

Councillor Connolly in her press release said: “The work and the services provided by the Rape Crisis Network are absolutely essential… the organisation has been a strong and independent voice, repeatedly highlighting the prevalence of sexual violence in our community and the inadequate response of various governments in addressing this issue.”

“Indeed”, she said, “it has shown over and over that the majority of survivors of sexual violence i.e. four out of five, do not engage at all with the justice system or with one to one counselling, and that without an organization such as RCNI the voices of the silent majority of victims would never be heard.”

Councillor Connolly also highlighted the importance of RCNI’s independent research, data collection and analysis functions, alluding to the fact that these give RCNI a role that is distinctly different from the services provided by Rape Crisis Centres throughout the country. She also referenced the use of this data as an “essential tool” in informing any government introduction of or changes to legislation and/or policies and practices relating to sexual violence.

“In the circumstances”, said Cllr Connolly, “the withdrawal of core funding by the government from the RCNI beggars belief and highlights in the most acute way the hypocrisy of the Government’s commitment to dealing with sexual violence.”

RCNI has been informed that Minister Reilly has agreed to meet with representatives of the organisation in the near future.

Dr Clíona Saidléar, RCNI Acting Director said, “This support from across parties is significant and recognises that the issue of sexual violence needs our collective leadership and collaboration. We were delighted to hear that Minister Reilly will now meet us, and look forward to a date being set for this meeting as quickly as possible. We plan to use this meeting to bring to his attention matters around the urgent need for his department to engage significantly in a whole of government response to sexual violence in Ireland.”

 

For more information, please contact Clíona on 0872196447.

RCNI core funding from the HSE/Tusla was cut from €292,770 in 2010 to €183,878 in 2014, representing a 37% cut, before being cut fully in 2015 as of the 31st of March. This funding represents approximately 70% of RCNI’s statutory funding, with the remaining 30% designated for specific programmes.

ENDS

RCNI call on government to state its intention to address the challenges of addressing sexual violence

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) Press Release

Wednesday 10th June 2015

RCNI call on government to state its intention to address the challenges of addressing sexual violence

Yesterday, the 9th of June RCNI called on government to meet the challenges in addressing sexual violence. The government’s response so far has been dismissive and inadequate. We call on the government to state its intention to address the significant challenges, gaps and deficits in the State’s current response to sexual violence.

Dr Clíona Saidléar RCNI Acting Director said, ‘4 out of 5 survivors of sexual violence are voting with their feet and are not engaging with the justice system or accessing one to one counselling. Therefore, for government to effectively say it is sufficient to be funding direct face-to-face services for 20% of survivors as well as working to improve legislation and the justice process, is not credible. This is not justice.

‘This silent majority must be listened to by this government. We must continue to ask what more needs to be done, in our communities and across the whole of government to respond progressively to sexual violence. The challenge is that the majority of survivors do not engage with the State. RCNI works to ensure their voices do not get lost.

‘Addressing this very serious challenge requires working in partnership with the specialists who can assist government. Instead, at a time when the RCNI and the limited specialist resources available to government are in jeopardy, this government have put their energy into dismissing and attempting to silence and undermine them. Such a response from government, on the removal by Tusla of RCNI core funding, lacks seriousness. Survivors deserve better from this government and we demand better. It is time for concrete measures and investment on the issue.

RCNI Core funding from HSE/Tusla was cut from €292,770 in 2010 to €183,878 in 2014, representing a 37% cut. Before being cut fully in 2015 as of the 31st of March. This funding represents approximately 70% of our statutory funding and the remaining 30% is designated for specific programmes.

ENDS