Thursday, 11 April 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Simon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
I thank the Ceann Comhairle for that guidance. I can understand the Deputy's concern but we need to be careful about what we say here in the context of individual cases, particularly when there are court cases ongoing. I am not familiar with the status of the court case so I need to be careful.
I would like to say more generally that the Government is totally committed to preventing and addressing sexual abuse and gender-based violence. Increased reporting of sexual crime to An Garda Síochána can be seen in some ways as a success in that victims feel more confident in reporting these crimes today. The laws surrounding sexual offences have been significantly strengthened in recent years through the introduction of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 and the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017. This important legislation helps victims identify that the behaviour they are suffering is wrong and encourages them to report it to An Garda Síochána. Divisional protective service units are also being rolled out this year across all policing divisions. These are specialised units tasked with improving services to victims, improving the investigation of sexual violence incidents, and identifying and managing risk. The Government has also approved a radical new national survey approach to the collection of data by the Central Statistics Office on the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland, which will greatly improve the evidence base for public policymaking in this area in the future.
I know the Deputy is looking for a more specific answer from me. As a father of three daughters, I have to say that it is important that parents and young people can have faith that when they get into a taxi, they are safe. I need to be careful in referring to any individual case but I will try to come back to the Deputy later, having taken some advice on it, to give him a more detailed answer.