June 25, 2024
Urgent action needed to ensure zero tolerance for epidemic of violence against women – Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has called for urgent action to bring an end to the epidemic of violence against women in our society.

Speaking today in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions, Teachta McDonald said:

People across the country are reeling at news of a vicious, brutal assault on a young woman in broad daylight on the streets of Limerick city.

“An attack committed by a member of the Defence Forces. An attack that was filmed, posted on social media, and bragged about. A harrowing assault that is the worst nightmare of every woman in this country.

“The victim of this assault, Natasha O’Brien, came forward and sought justice. In good faith, she put herself through the distress of reliving the assault in Garda statements and in court.

“She believed in justice and wanted to ensure that the assailant would not be free to walk the streets again – posing a danger to other women. But shockingly, he has been handed down a three-year suspended sentence. As Natasha herself has asked, what message does this send to perpetrators?

“Women, girls and everyone in our society are entitled to be safe and protected. Whether that is walking the streets, or in our own homes.

“That should go without saying in 2024. It should be a bare minimum. The most basic freedom that women and girls should be able to take for granted. But we can’t.

“As shocking as it is, women know that it is not a standalone case. But a symptom of an epidemic in our society.

“As a society, we cannot accept anything other than zero tolerance for this appalling violence. Zero tolerance for the culture that facilitates this violence.

“A judicial system, a Defence Forces, a political system and a society that is failing to confront violence against women; fails us all.

“We need to see urgent action to address the epidemic of violence against women across society, so that there is truly zero tolerance for such crimes.

“Taoiseach, I met with Natasha earlier today. She says, in her own words, ‘everything needs to change. Everything about this needs to change’. So I ask you, as head of this government- what is going to change and when?”

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