That Dáil Éireann:
— domestic, sexual and gender-based violence is a national social problem;
— the majority of violence, abuse and coercive control of women is perpetrated by men;
— over 244 women have died violently since 1996; and
— 99 per cent of suspected offenders of detected sexual violence reported in 2019 were male;
— women are not afraid of their surroundings, they are afraid of violent men;
— everyday sexism, harassment and misogyny remain systemic across Irish society;
— violence, abuse and coercive control of women is often hidden and unreported;
— sex, gender and sexuality education programmes for children and young adults are inadequate;
— in one in five cases of detected sexual violence reported in 2019, both the victim and suspected offender were under 18 when the offence occurred; and
— recorded crime statistics continue to be categorised as statistics "Under Reservation";
commends the work of National Women's Council of Ireland, Safe Ireland, Women's Aid, Rape Crisis Centres and the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland, local domestic violence refuges, and other supports and services in protecting women and their children, and for their enormous contribution to public policy; and
calls on the Government to:
— complete and publish a comprehensive and integrated third national strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and commit to implement, resource and fund this strategy in full;
— prioritise implementation of the recommendations of the independent Study on Familicide and Domestic Homicide Reviews following its publication;
— implement a national sex and gender-disaggregated database on domestic, sexual, gender-based violence;
— expedite the Sexual Violence Survey which is not due to be completed until 2023; and
— establish a domestic, sexual and gender-based violence policy and service implementation unit within the Department of the Taoiseach.
Sinn Féin has tabled this motion to respond to the epidemic of gender-based, domestic and sexual violence in Ireland. Violence against women, emotional and mental abuse and the ever-growing problem of coercive control are a national and social crisis. The State and successive Governments have a poor record when it comes to support and protections for women who have been subjected to violence and abuse by men. It has been left to community organisations and NGOs to step up, fill the gaps and help vulnerable and traumatised women. Organisations such as Safe Ireland, Women's Aid, the Rape Crisis Network Ireland, rape crisis centres, local refuges and the National Women's Council of Ireland do Trojan work with little support from the State and deserve our recognition and thanks.
This is an incredible situation when we consider the scale of the violence faced by women. Here are some of the facts. Hundreds of women have died violently in Ireland. Many were killed in their own homes. Most were killed by a man known to them. The majority of violence, abuse and coercive control of women is perpetrated by men and 99% of suspected offenders of detected sexual violence reported in 2019 were male. The crisis we have is pervasive, continuous and getting worse. Support organisations such as Women's Aid and Safe Ireland have reported a frightening increase in the numbers reaching out to them for help. In 2020, Women's Aid support workers heard over 30,000 disclosures of domestic violence, including coercive control, while Safe Ireland's submission to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice stated that nearly 3,500 women and 600 children contacted a domestic violence service for the first time during the first six months of the pandemic.
The culture of everyday sexism, misogyny and violence against women is systemic. We find it right across our society. We believe it is time for everyone elected to the Dáil and the whole Oireachtas to play our part in ending this scourge of gender-based violence in Ireland. A particular and urgent responsibility falls on the Government.
Following the brutal murder of Ashling Murphy last week, there has been a collective outpouring of grief and anger and a demand for real change. It is time and there is now the opportunity for the Government to respond in a way that matches the scale of this crisis and the magnitude of violence and abuse against women and girls.
This means coming up with resourcing and funding for services. The days of the béal bocht and of services existing and surviving on a wing and a prayer must be over. It means the passing of legislation and the delivery of policies with a modern and modernising outlook and a genuine determination to make things better.
The Sinn Féin motion before the House focuses on practical solutions and actions that will make a difference in how the State tackles gender-based violence. There are steps that can be taken immediately to turn the tide of a crisis that is ruining the lives of far too many women and girls right across our communities. Our proposals include the need for the Government to complete and publish the comprehensive and integrated third national strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and, crucially, to commit to implementing, resourcing and funding that strategy in full.
Policy, legislation, resources and political decision-making relating to gender-based violence are currently scattered across a number of Government Departments. I think everyone now accepts that this fragmented approach has not worked. I note that the Minister for Justice will now be the single senior Minister to take all of these matters forward. That is a welcome move. However, we have also proposed the establishment of a dedicated unit in the Department of the Taoiseach for oversight and co-ordination to ensure the implementation of the national strategy and that all parties to it are held to account. We believe it still remains important that the Taoiseach, the head of the Government of the day, drives this strategy and is accountable for it.
To better inform policy decisions and response strategies, we are also calling for the publication of the sexual violence survey and the implementation of the recommendations in the independent study of familicide and domestic homicide reviews. We have raised these matters, as the Minister knows, on many occasions. This is an urgent matter.
I understand the Government is supporting our motion, and that is to be welcomed. It is important that all of us, as Teachtaí Dála from whichever political party or the Independent benches, stand together. I believe this is an issue on which there is far more to bring us together in common purpose than there is to divide us in disagreement because this is not about political parties or party politics. This is about coming together to send a message that when this Dáil says "Enough is enough", we mean business. It is not a slogan at a time of grief to be cast aside when the time of mourning has past. Women have had enough of that. We have had enough of promises that go nowhere and, all the while, women and girls suffer the awful consequences of this State and too many Governments being found badly wanting. When we say it ends here, the only way that can be made real is by the Government following up with actions and initiatives that will bring an end to this scourge of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. Everything else is just talk in the end. This comes down to political will and the Government grasping this imperative to make real change. Of course, that imperative also applies to all of us on the Opposition benches. To borrow a phrase, we need to be in this together.
I welcome that the Taoiseach earlier today accepted my proposal that a meeting of political leaders be convened early next week because I believe the entire political leadership of the Oireachtas needs to commit publicly and vigorously to sustain this matter. We need stamina and persistence on these matters.
The women of Ireland are crying out loudly and clearly. It has been said already but let me repeat that this can be a watershed moment and the challenge for us all is to make sure it is.