Wednesday 26 April 2017

More than 150 join march to Take Back the Night after spate of sexual assaults

Walkers taking part in the Take back the Night Walk from Shankill to Killiney
Walkers taking part in the Take back the Night Walk from Shankill to Killiney

Alan O'Keeffe

More than 150 people took part in a “Take Back the Night” march in a south Co Dublin suburb in response to a number of sex assaults in the area.

RTE’s Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh, councillors and local men, women and young people walked a 5km circuit last night from Shankill Dart station, which included Rathsallagh, Killiney Hill Road and Shanganagh Road.

Take Back the Night is an international initiative intended as a protest against all forms of sexual and domestic violence.

Last night’s march was organised by local woman Emily Lyon (23), who was joined by a team of volunteer stewards in marching in solidarity with the victims of attacks in the Shankill/Killiney areas in the past year.

RTE’s Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh (center) pictured during the Take back the Night Walk from Shankill to Killiney
RTE’s Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh (center) pictured during the Take back the Night Walk from Shankill to Killiney

SOLIDARITY

“It was a great success in its aim to bring the community together to stand in solidarity with the people who have been affected by these attacks and to reclaim a space in which community members should feel safe. Moreover, this walk stands in solidarity with everyone who has ever been affected by sexual violence,” she added.

A public invitation to participants stated it was necessary for the community to stand up against sexual violence.

Fear and anxiety in the local population had been caused by attacks in the area and people, especially women and girls, had changed their daily routines because they did not feel safe walking at night, she said.

“The walk was borne out of frustration at hearing about the different attacks. People felt threatened,” said Ms Lyon.

She said walks and protests can be very effective in effecting change. Back in 1979, a major Reclaim the Night march in Dublin helped to prompt the opening of Dublin’s Rape Crisis Centre.

“Sexual violence happens a lot in our society and is in no way limited to these local attacks.

“I had loads of offers of support from men and women when this event was being organised,” she said.

A number of members of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council took part in the event, including Cathaoirleach Cormac Devlin.

ATTACKS

As far back as a year ago, there were a number of reported attacks in the area. Investigations involved gardai deploying undercover officers to patrol the areas where the attacks were reported to have occurred.

Since December 2015, four assaults on women have been reported to gardai, while two suspicious approaches were also recorded.

On January 30, a woman in her 40s was also assaulted near the Bayview estate in the suburb of Killiney.

The victim managed to fight off her attacker but was left severely shaken by the incident.

Last month, an American woman suffered facial injuries when she was assaulted while waiting for a bus to the airport with friends near the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel.

There have been calls for additional garda patrols in the area following the incidents.

Ms Ni Chofaigh, who joined last night’s walk, helped tackle a mugger in Dublin city centre last month. The thief was restrained and held by a number of women after he snatched a wallet from a tourist.

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