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More support for rape crisis services needed in revised estimates

24 May, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on the Government to provide needed additional resources to rape crisis services across the state in the revised estimates coming before the Dail, and to take stronger action to encourage and support reporting sexual violence to the Gardai. Deputy Ó Snodaigh was speaking after attending the launch of the first statewide statistics from the Rape Crisis Network Ireland.

Speaking after the launch in Dublin today he said, "I would like to congratulate the Rape Crisis Network for publishing these important statistics, which deserve attention.

"The statistics show that the RCNI's 15 centres took an estimated 45,000 calls last year from people in distress. If that isn't shocking enough, this figure apparently represents only an estimated 12% of the actual number of people who were subjected to rape, sexual assault or other sexual abuse in the state last year. What‚s even more sobering is that only 20% of that 12% of cases were reported to the Gardaí. This clearly calls for greater resolve and concerted action to increase reporting of these horrific crimes, and also the provision of sufficient resources to those who provide needed support.

"I am concerned that the job of work to de-stigmatise the reporting of such attacks has not been done by those of us in public leadership roles. But it is even more so up to the Government to take concrete initiatives to make it easier for people to come forward both to report to the Gardai and to avail of counselling and other support.

"During last year's budget period I called on the Government to provide the needed additional resources to women's frontline services across the state. Unfortunately, the Government ignored my arguments.

"Presently, due to insufficient resources provided to the rape crisis network, some people who come to them for help have to wait between one and six months for counselling. That situation has to end. I find it astounding that the Government has not met the rape crisis centres need for an additional €1 million to allow them to extend their services. At this time of year we are dealing with revised estimates and I would urge the relevant Ministers to find this small amount of extra cash to support a critical service for which there is, unfortunately, still such high demand.

"I therefore welcome the Tánaiste‚s presence and her supportive words at today's launch but I expect her to back up her words with appropriate funding for these support agencies either in the revised estimates currently before the House, or in the Government‚s next budget." ENDS

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