RCNI release latest Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) accompaniment figures

In 2013 494 people were accompanied to SATUs by Rape Crisis Centre Psychological Support Workers, according to new Rape Crisis Network Ireland National statistics. 95% of the victims were female and the age range was from teenagers to 65. This unique Rape Crisis support to victims attending a sexual assault treatment unit is provided 24 hours a day in each of the SATU locations nationwide.

RCNI’s Susan Miner said, ‘for survivors the fact that we are there at the SATU, working as part of the team with An Garda Síochána, the SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examination) Nurses, Medical Doctors and Clinical Nurse Managers is incredibly important.’

Rape Crisis Network Ireland, An Garda Síochána, Office of the DPP, Forensic Science Laboratory, HSE nursing and medical personnel and GPs have devised and updated the national guidelines by which these vital services are offered. The updated third edition of Recent Rape/Sexual Assault: National Guidelines on Referral and Forensic Clinical Examination in Ireland is being launched tomorrow morning (17th October) in Mullingar. These guidelines include sections covering An Garda Síochána, clinical forensic examinations, health checks, STI checks and treatment, psychological support, General Practitioners and legal issues.

An electronic copy of the Guidelines will be available on the RCNI website – www.rcni.ie from Friday lunchtime.

Innovative new sex education programme -REAL U- fills education gaps, new study shows

* Innovative new sex education programme fills education gap, new study shows

* REAL U Programme developed by Foróige, Ireland’s leading youth organisation, delivered to more than 10,500 teenagers nationwide

* HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme funds national roll out

* Launch of REAL U research findings alongside HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme’s re-developed B4uDecide.ie website


An innovative new sex education programme delivered to more than 10,500 teenagers nationwide is ‘filling a gap’ in relationship and sexuality education for young people in Ireland, a new study has shown.

The 12-month research into youth organisation Foróige’s Relationships Explored and Life Uncovered (REAL U) programme also found that young people’s attitudes to LGBT issues and knowledge about the facts of sex improved significantly as a result of taking part in the 12-week programme.

REAL U is a comprehensive relationships and sexual health programme designed to delay the onset of early sexual activity and reduce teen pregnancy. Funding for the roll out of the programme nationally came from the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme.

Foróige’s Dr. Susan Redmond welcomed the study findings:

“Young people are living in an increasingly sexualised world and teenagers need the tools to navigate through this world effectively.

“What this programme does is equip teenagers with the confidence and knowledge to cultivate healthy relationships, develop their confidence around expressing their thoughts and feelings, while also being aware of the risks that early sexual behaviour can have.

“It also allows for the subject of sex to be discussed in a frank and honest way which enables them to develop behaviours that nurture positive relationships in all aspects of their lives.”

Body image, emotional well-being, healthy relationships, gender and sexuality, media messaging, pornography, contraception, unplanned pregnancy and STIs are just some of the topics addressed in the innovative programme.

The ‘RealCare’ Baby infant simulator, which makes it possible for teenagers to practise caring for an infant for 24 hours, seven days a week, is also offered as an additional element to the programme in Foróige’s Centre in Blanchardstown, Dublin.

The study into the REAL U programme, which was undertaken by the UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre, NUI Galway over a 12 month period, was launched this morning at Pearse St Library in Dublin.

Teenagers who took part in the programme said they were better informed and more aware of the consequences of their actions, with 98% of those evaluated rating the programme highly.

Almost all of the teenagers evaluated said the programme should be widely available to young people to ensure they are informed and empowered to make the right decision for them.

To date, 440 facilitators have been trained in the programme, with more than 10,500 young people completing the programme nationwide.

Foróige also offers training on the programme to external agencies for free through funding from the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme. To date, training has been provided to 43 different agencies including the Child and Family Agency Túlsa, Focus Ireland and Barnardos.

Wayne Deegan, a 16 year old from Blanchardstown in Dublin who is taking part in the programme, said: “Talking about relationships and sex isn’t easy. I really like this programme though because you can speak up and ask questions you wouldn’t feel comfortable asking your parents or teachers without getting embarrassed. It’s good to talk about it out in the open.”

Dr Bernadine Brady of the UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre at NUI, Galway, who conducted the study, said: “The findings show that young people and youth workers really value having a comprehensive, youth friendly programme of this nature. There is clear evidence that the REAL U programme can improve young people’s knowledge and awareness of sexual health and relationship matters.”

The event also saw the launch of the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme’s re-developed B4uDecide.ie website. The website aims to delay early sex among adolescents 14-16 years old by providing them with all the information they might need before making any big decisions about relationships and sex.

The website features new quizzes and polls, video interviews with young people talking about their experiences, real life stories from teenage parents, a ‘Relationships’ section that provides information on building healthy friendships and relationships and a section called ‘The Facts’ that deals with the age of consent, contraception, STIs and crisis pregnancy.

Dr. Cate Hartigan, Assistant National Director, HSE Health Promotion & Improvement said: “The HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme’s Strategy 2012–2016 recognises the vital work that youth organisations play in ensuring that young people are equipped with the knowledge and skills to develop positive and supportive relationships.

“The B4uDecide.ie website delivers ‘The Facts without the Lecture’ to young people and assists youth workers in the provision of relationships and sex education (RSE) in youth work settings. These important initiatives that aim to improve the provision of RSE to young people fit within strong Government commitments to improve health and wellbeing of the population and improve outcomes for children and young people.”REAL U

Senator Mullen Must Clarify Recent Comments

RCNI calls on Senator Mullen for clarification of his recent comments on charitable donations and pro-choice support.
Senator Ronan Mullen is cited in the Galway Independent 10/9/2014 as stating that the recent St Vincent De Paul allocation of funding to an LGBT group is ‘unwise’. Mr Mullen stated that ‘times were hard for a great number of people’ and the LGBT group AMACH! ‘had supported a pro-abortion march last year’ as some of the reasons for his opposition to the funding allocation.
Fiona Neary, RCNI director said, ‘by this logic, is Mr Mullen advocating that all recipients of funds from the Vincent De Paul charity are first vetted for any support of termination of pregnancy in any circumstance?
‘Data from Rape Crisis Network Ireland tells us that in 2011 alone 90 women and girls who had become pregnant as a result of a rape at some time in their life, were attending a rape crisis centre. These women came from all socio-economic backgrounds. Seventeen of these victims, including those pregnant as a result of incest, chose to terminate their pregnancy. According to the IFPA an estimated 147,912 women resident in Ireland have had a termination.
‘Is Mr Mullen advocating that all women and children recipients of charitable funds from the Vincent De Paul are first asked whether or not they were ever a victim of rape and chose a termination, or if they ever supported a victim of rape who chose a termination?’


Rape Victim Denied Termination

Rape Crisis Network Ireland today expressed deep concern at the trauma inflicted on the rape victim, who was pregnant after rape and sought a termination at eight weeks – and after delay upon delay resorted to hunger strike. RCNI are concerned that her human rights were effectively denied and call for immediate government action.

Fiona Neary, RCNI Director said, ‘we are appalled at the treatment of this rape victim. While not all the details are known we are clear that this rape victim was utterly failed in her decision to terminate her pregnancy at a very early stage. It is unclear what happened over the next three months that culminated in the force feeding of the young woman and the birth by caesarean section of her just viable child. What is clear is that this rape victim was not taken care of, her human rights and her choices were denied. How many more rape victims have and will be failed in this way?’

RCNI call on the government to clarify immediately
* who is responsible for finding out exactly what happened in this case,
* who were the authorities from whom the young woman sought to access a termination and
* what responses was she given?
Further, how does the government intend to take appropriate action to ensure this never happens again and when and how will the public will be informed of what gave rise to months of delays while this young woman was in contact with ‘authorities’ and requesting a termination.

Ms Neary continued, ‘statements such that ‘the new legislation will be monitored’ are wholly insufficient – this legislation fails victims of rape, including incest, who cannot access a termination in a timely and supportive manner in Ireland.’
For a link to RCNI briefing on pregnancy after rape for RCC service users http://www.rcni.ie/wp-content/uploads/RangeOfOutcomesOfSurvivorsOfRapeWhoArePregnantAsAResultOfRape2011.pdf

State Must Respect Survivor’s Right to Consent

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) asks that the state makes every effort to engage with and consult survivors before making the decision to keep their confidential Ryan Commission and Institutional Redress board witness statements.


Fiona Neary, RCNI Director said, ‘People’s consent to changes in the terms under which they gave their witness statements must be sought. Central to sexual violence is the abuse of rights and consent; the State must not now repeat this violation. If the state acts in a way that disregards the autonomy and dignity of survivors it makes a mockery of the Ryan Commission and redress process. This is unconscionable.


‘Survivors of institutional child abuse took part in the State’s inquiries into its failures on the assurance that their testimonies would not be retained. When the commission completed its work in 2009 a decision was made not to destroy those records immediately. Now the government is to bring in a new law that will allow the state to retain these records which will likely become available to the public in 75 years.’


‘There appears to be no plans to contact or consult the approximately 3,000 survivors or their families to seek their consent on issues that are intensely private and intimate to them and their experiences of abuse when they were children.


‘These survivors, betrayed as children, by institutions, authority figures and often by the state, entrusted that same state with redress and enquiry. Their trust must continue to be earned by the state and that means the state making every effort to seek every person’s consent to the retention of their invaluable witness statements so that future generations may hear their voice and guard against such betrayals of the vulnerable.’

Rape Crisis Midwest

RCNI call for action as Rape Crisis Centre serving three counties in Ireland closes for a month due to lack of funding


RCNI call for action from An Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, as Rape Crisis Midwest today announced it is forced to close for a minimum period of a month due to lack of funding. The centre provides a range of services covering three countries including providing ongoing face to face counselling for approximately 80 survivors per week.

Fiona Neary, RCNI director said, ‘for six years rape crisis services have been experiencing cuts to funding with further cuts earmarked. So far these represent up to 30% in cumulative cuts. Simultaneously RCCs have been experiencing extraordinary increases in demand for their services:

Between 2009 and 2012 RCCs have seen a:

  • 28% increase in clients accessing their counselling and support services,
  • 38% increase in helpline contacts, 1
  • 116% increase in numbers of accompaniments. 2

‘This situation is unsustainable. In the current context of decreasing public budgets it is important to put on the record that unless these cuts are reversed and additional investments made in prevention programmes, we are watching nothing less than a spectacular failure in terms of what Ireland should be doing in order to provide any meaningful response to victims of sexual violence. Sexual violence, and all forms of gender- based violence, can be addressed and can be ended. The devastating impact of crimes of sexual violence on individuals, and their families, can be greatly mitigated through expert, victim-sensitive responses. Prevention programmes can reduce incidents of sexual violence. A government which does not set-out to achieve this, through dedicated and adequate funding, is a government which fails children, women and men in Ireland. This failure is not just a failure by government, civil servants and the state, it is a failure by Irish society as a whole.

‘Rape Crisis Centres across Ireland have cut services with many closing outreaches, programmes for vulnerable populations, education programmes with young people, cutting hours and the access of survivors to the services. RCCs are increasingly dependent on volunteerism for core service provision. There is nothing left to cut. Under these continued circumstances closures such as we see in the Midwest today have become unfortunately and disgracefully inevitable.

‘RCNI estimate that funding for frontline services and national coordination, would require at least a 50% increase in the current budget for the sector of 4.5 million euro.

‘No adequate government response to tackle sexual violence in a meaningful way is possible without frontline services for victims. Indeed from 2015 onwards the Irish state will be liable to fines from the EU under the Victims Directive if these services are not in place. Perceptions that ‘reconfiguring’ of front line services can in some-way off-set the impact of year on year cuts occurring in an already resource-starved sector are misguided. Any money ‘saved’ now which results in less services, less prevention programmes and less data and analytical capacity,  will most likely cost us dearly, even before you try to calculate the cost to survivors, their loved ones and communities.’



1 This information is a comparison of the same 14 RCCs using the RCNI Data Collection System between 2009 and 2012 inclusive. It does not include Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Cork Sexual Violence Service. Reliable data for Dublin Rape Crisis Centre is only available in 2011 and 2012. No reliable data is available for Cork Sexual Violence Service.

2 As above and please note that Donegal SATU opened in 2010.

Launch of EU Agency of Fundamental Rights (FRA) Violence Against Women: EU Wide Survey

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) Press Release

5th March 2014

Launch of EU Agency of Fundamental Rights (FRA) Violence Against Women: an EU wide survey

RCNI, as the national Institute on Rape and Sexual violence and the lead national agency on data collection are delighted to be partnering with Safe Ireland, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights and the National Women’s Council of Ireland today to launch the 1st Europe wide prevalence study of domestic and sexual violence ‘Violence against women: an EU wide survey.’

In light of these findings the RCNI calls on the Irish government to protect all funding to front line services and the vital support to those services which is the RCNI and Safe Ireland.

Fiona Neary, RCNI Director said, ‘This survey confirms that sexual violence against women and girls is pervasive and pandemic across Europe with 8% of Irish women saying they had experienced sexual violence since the age of 15 as against the European average of 11%.

‘Since 2009 core funding for rape crisis frontline services has been cut by 16.5% with further cuts confirmed for 2014. These cuts were to a sector that was already chronically under resourced and have been so unevenly distributed that in fact the Centre with the lowest funding was cut by over 30%.  At the same time secondary sources of funding, such as public donations and programme grants have also been severely reduced or stopped.

‘Ireland must continue to build on the work that has started – the on-going cuts to services and insecurity of national data collection programmes must be addressed by the state immediately, the challenge is to build on this foundation to work alongside the RCNI and the Rape Crisis sector to create the infrastructure and the cultural change that will prevent rape and sexual violence.’

‘The research finds that women and girls in different countries have a wide variety of experiences. It is clear that prevalence studies on violence against women simultaneously measure not only prevalence but also, to a greater or lesser extent, a country’s attitude towards talking about these crimes.

‘In some EU Member States it remains a taboo to talk about sexual violence, especially sexual violence within the family. The majority of Irish women who had experienced sexual violence from a non partner who did not go to the police (48%) or any other services (66%) said this was because they would deal with it themselves or because the perpetrator was a friend or it was a family matter. Women named a very high level of fear of assault in our society (28% saying they feared assault in the past 12 months) with surprising numbers of women in work reporting harassment (55% of women experienced sexual harassment, 32% were harassed by a boss, colleague or customer).

Without concerted intervention Ireland will remain a country where women feel they have no choice but to face sexual violence alone.  Until our families, schools, health care and other institutions name sexual violence, we should not expect girls and women who are victimised to do so.’

‘RCNI calls on the Irish government to respond to FRA conclusions, that adequately resourcing responses to victims and supporting systematic evidence generation is vital. The practice of passing the responsibility for this issue to limited remit agencies and departments resulting in gaps and missed opportunities must end. Whole of government action is needed to bring about credible long-term prevention work across all age groups in all statutory settings.

For information
Cliona Saidlear

FRA, Violence Against Women: an EU wide survey, is available here http://fra.europa.eu/DVS/DVT/vaw.php 

FRA findings on Sexual Violence Occurrence Ireland Average (%) EU Average (%)
Sexual violence by a partner or a non-partner since the age of 15 8 11
Sexual violence by a partner since the age of 15 6 7
Sexual violence by a non-partner since the age of 15 7 6
Number of perpetrators in the most serious incident of physical and/or sexual violence by a non-partner3 or more perpetrators

2 or more perpetrators

1 perpetrator





Reasons for not contacting the police following the most serious incident of physical and/or sexual violence by a non-partner since the age of 15?Deal with it myself/involved a friend/family matter

Shame, embarrassment?





Experiencing any form of stalking since the age of 15
Experiencing stalking in the form of cyberstalking since the age of 15
Experiencing any form of sexual harassment:Since the age of 15

Six most severe forms*

In the past 12 months

Six most severe forms*                                               









Worrying about being physically or sexually assaulted by any
in the 12 months prior to the interviewBy someone from work, school or training

By a previous partner

By another acquaintance or a friend

By an unknown person








Avoiding places or situations for fear of being physically or sexually assaulted in the 12 months prior to the interviewAvoiding to leave the home on her own

Avoiding to be alone with a colleague or boss at workAvoiding to take certain streets or going to certain areas







* The six (out of total of 11) most severe forms of sexual harassment were considered: 1) Unwelcome touching, hugging or kissing, 2) Sexually suggestive comments or jokes that made you feel offended, 3) Somebody sending or showing you sexually explicit pictures, photos or gifts that made you feel offended, 4) Somebody indecently exposing themselves to you, 5) Somebody made you watch or look at pornographic material against your wishes, 6) Unwanted sexually explicit emails or SMS messages that offended you.

Copyright © 2012 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

One in Three Women in Europe Experience Violence – Europe’s Biggest Study

 violence against women header

March 5, 2014

One in Three Women in Europe Experience Violence – Europe’s Biggest Study

One in three – or 33% – of women in Europe say that they have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15 by a partner or non-partner, according to the findings of Europe’s biggest-ever study on violence against women carried out by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (EU FRA).

Over one in five – 22% – have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner and 43% have experienced some form of psychological violence by either a current or former partner.

The shocking statistics reveal that women are being abused at home, at work, in public and on-line every day across the 28 EU member states.  The full statistics, including initial comparisons for Ireland, will be revealed at a seminar hosted tomorrow (March 5th) by SAFE Ireland, the EU FRA, the National Women’s Council of Ireland, and Rape Crisis Network Ireland (Mansion House, 10:15 am to 2 pm).

Patricia Prendiville, Irish Board member of the EU FRA, said: “The figures in this survey cannot and should not be ignored.  Physical sexual and psychological violence against women is an extensive human rights abuse in all EU member states including Ireland.”

The FRA survey on violence against women is based on face-to-face interviews with 42,000 women, including 1,500 Irish women, aged between 18 and 74.  The women were interviewed in their own homes.   The survey is the most comprehensive worldwide on women’s experience of violence.

The survey also reveals that over half of all women (55%) have experienced some form of sexual harassment with one in three victims saying that the perpetrator was a boss, colleague or customer.  One in three women – 33% – have childhood experiences of physical or sexual violence at the hands of an adult.

For more information contact: Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207


RCNI welcomes the double life sentence of man convicted of the rape of two children

RCNI welcome the sentencing of the 30 year old man convicted of the rape of a child in Athlone last September in the Central Criminal Court by Judge Paul Carney today.

Fiona Neary, RCNI Executive Director said, ‘RCNI welcomes Judge Carney’s sentence of this man and his statements on the issue of  mitigation –  today a very serious sexual offender was given a very serious sentence. RCNI thoughts are with the children and their families and hope they get the support and privacy they need now to continue healing and to face forward.


‘Many people will ask “how will these children cope”– it is important to know that recovery is possible. The children were believed when they told, they were listened to, they were immediately embraced with love, care and support. They were helped immediately, including through specialist support. Today justice was delivered and the girls know that nothing was their fault. All of these steps support recovery.


‘A life sentence is appropriate in the most serious incidents of sexual violence crime, including exceptional cases where there is an early guilty plea. This is such a case. A life sentence equips the State to do everything in its power to keep the community safe from those who would pose a danger. With a life sentence the state can now monitor and supervise this relatively young offender for the rest of his life, should parole be agreed in the future.’


For more information

Cliona Saidlear

087 2196447​