Rape Crisis Network Ireland
Sir, – In “‘Very serious mistakes’ in State’s sexual violence strategy” (June 9th), you reported Tusla’s comment on the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) national data, knowledge and information system that “the data collection techniques employed by RCNI were not of the requisite standard”. This statement is untrue. We thank The Irish Times for amending that article online subsequently; this now reads that the RCNI data system “does not meet Tusla requirements”.
RCNI’s system has been both nationally and internationally assessed, deemed to be valid and reliable in its measurement as well as ground breaking, to the degree the system has been recognised by the European Institute on Gender Equality as a model of best practice for European countries and has been showcased by invitation at international and UN events.
As we have explored with Tusla, the RCNI exists to serve survivors and the issue of sexual violence; we do not exist only to serve Tusla’s administrative needs.
One way we do this is by comprehensively and systematically documenting the precise nature of sexual violence and its impact. So while we are clear the RCNI data system can meet Tusla’s data needs, this is only one small part of its purpose.
Further to Tusla’s statement that “funding has instead been ‘diverted to ‘front-line’ services offering direct counselling”, there is no evidence that any money has been diverted from RCNI funding to rape crisis centres.
Tusla has, however, made it clear to us that the public sector deficit that it inherited will have to be shouldered equally out of the NGO funding it also inherited, even though we brought no deficit to Tusla. Tusla is putting extra resources into employing their own administrative layer, with four new posts relating to sexual violence. This can hardly be called diverting money to the “front line”. It is additionally untrue to say the RCNI does not provide frontline services, when we do.
Finally but most importantly, the Tusla statement in no way answers the questions we raised last week about the gaps and shortcomings in the Irish Government’s funding and support for a response to the issue of sexual violence. It cannot, because these matters lie outside the capacity and remit of Tusla; they are therefore a matter for Government.
We continue to await a Government response.
Dr CLÍONA SAIDLÉAR,
Acting Executive Director,
Rape Crisis Network Ireland,
This letter was published on IrishTimes.com on Friday, June 19th, 2015. You can read the original here.