McDonald calls on Government to fund updated SAVI report
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD today criticised the Government for refusing to commit the funding necessary to produce up-to-date research on sexual abuse and violence in Ireland.
Speaking in the Dáil during Leaders Question, the Dublin Central TD said:
“The SAVI report documented the impact of sexual violence on the Irish population, yet many aspects of the 2002 report are now outdated. The importance of updating this research cannot be overstated.
“Noeline Blackwell of the Dublin Rape Crisis Network has said that the government is in a situation where decisions are being made about how to combat sexual violence in Ireland which are based on evidence which is so out of date that it might as well be from Dickens.
“When this matter was raised with the Taoiseach last week, he professed to have an open mind on the matter, and said that government departments have expressed a preference for the money to be directed into services rather than into funding for a new report.
“The Taoiseach also said that departments are satisfied with the statistics and information they have. The Department of Justice cited the Rape Crisis Network as a source of these statistics. Yet, that organisation has clearly stated that it is no longer able to publish statistics because of funding cuts.
“This was a cynical attempt, on the part of the Taoiseach, to pit the two vital pillars of combatting sexual violence against each other. It should not be a case of research versus services. The message should not be that you can either have one or the other. We need both.
“In the absence of up-to-date information, how can we be certain that services are being properly allocated? The need to fund a new report is not without its supporters within Government. I understand that members of Cabinet were asked to support the funding of a new report. Minister Katherine Zappone has stated that the government should fund the new study. The Tánaiste has said that it something that the government should consider. Yet it seems that all of this has fallen on deaf ears.
“At the Fine Gael Presidential Dinner last Saturday night, the Taoiseach’s open mind had closed-shut. He confirmed that the government would not be funding a new report. In saying that the money would go on legal aid, Mr Varadkar once again played the imperatives of research and services against each other. We need both adequately funded and resourced.
“This is about choices. We would have five new reports for the cost of the Taoiseach’s vanity project - the infamous Strategic Communications Unit. I am calling on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to provide the funding necessary to produce up-to-date research on sexual abuse and violence in Ireland as advocated by his cabinet colleagues.”