Tuesday 12 November 2019

Varadkar: Ireland gripped by ‘epidemic of gender-based violence’

The Taoiseach sent his condolences to the parents of Ana Kriegel.

Ana Kriegel (Family Handout/PA)
Ana Kriegel (Family Handout/PA)

By David Young, PA

The Taoiseach said his heart goes out to the parents of Ana Kriegel as he acknowledged Ireland is gripped by “an epidemic of gender-based violence”.

Leo Varadkar was pressed in the Dail on his Government’s record on supporting victims of sex crime by Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger.

Ms Coppinger described the 14-year-old schoolgirl’s murder as the “most extreme example of sexual assault and misogyny” Ireland had seen.

She referenced alleged offences against other females, including what she described in the Dail as “reports of famous sports celebrities strutting around with impunity despite sexual assault allegations”.

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Ruth Coppinger (Tom Honan/PA)

Responding to her criticism that the Government was not doing enough to reform the justice system or invest in support services or education, Mr Varadkar began by expressing his sympathies to Ana’s parents.

“My condolences and also my heart goes out to the parents of Ana Kriegel,” said the Taoiseach.

“I saw them speaking yesterday and I just can’t image what they are going through and what they will go through for the rest of their lives because of what happened to their beautiful daughter.”

Mr Varadkar’s comments come after two 15-year-old boys convicted of Ana’s murder in Lucan, Co Dublin, in May 2018 were sentenced on Tuesday.

Boy A, who was also convicted of aggravated sexual assault, was sentenced at Dublin’s Central Criminal Court to life, with a review period after 12 years.

Boy B was sentenced to 15 years’ detention, with a review after eight years.

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Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)

During leaders’ questions in the Dail, Mr Varadkar told Ms Coppinger: “There is an epidemic of gender-based violence in Ireland and indeed across the world. And it does need to stop. And you asked me what the Government is doing about it and we’re doing quite a lot.”

He listed the law changes and initiatives the Government had undertaken to protect and support victims of sex crime.

Ms Coppinger, who last year famously displayed a thong in the Dail chamber as she alleged a victim-blaming culture in Ireland’s courts, said the Government was not doing enough.

“On the three counts of how complainants are treated in court, funding and education you have failed abysmally over the last year,” she said.

Claiming alleged rape victims were continually not being believed in courtrooms, the TD referenced reports of an Irish sport star facing allegations of sexual misconduct.

“Is it any wonder we’ve reports of famous sports celebrities strutting around with impunity despite sexual assault allegations,” she told the Dail chamber.

“Are women to go into hiding every time such a figure decides to go on a night out.”

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