Friday 20 September 2019

'There's an epidemic of violence against women' - Varadkar

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, with (L-R) Minister Heather Humphreys, Orla O'Connor, Director of the National women's council and Minister Charlie Flanagan after a cabinet meeting on International Women's Day Picture credit: Damien Eagers / INM
Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, with (L-R) Minister Heather Humphreys, Orla O'Connor, Director of the National women's council and Minister Charlie Flanagan after a cabinet meeting on International Women's Day Picture credit: Damien Eagers / INM
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

THERE is “an epidemic of violence against women” in Ireland, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

After chairing a special Cabinet meeting to mark International Women’s Day, Mr Varadkar said more work is needed to protect women.

“I think a lot of people will recognise that there is an epidemic of violence against women. It needs to stop.

“We know the names of many women who have had violence perpetrated against them and the ratification of the Istanbul Convention today is a very important part of that,” he said.

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, with Orla O'Connor, Director of the National women's council, left and cabinet colleagues on International Women's Day
Picture credit: Damien Eagers / INM
Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, with Orla O'Connor, Director of the National women's council, left and cabinet colleagues on International Women's Day Picture credit: Damien Eagers / INM

The issue has been at the centre of public debate since the family of Clodagh Hawe, who was killed along with her three boys by husband Alan, spoke out about how gardaí handled the investigation into her death.

Ministers met today in The Academy building on Dublin’s Pearse Street to formally ratify Ireland’s support for Istanbul Convention (the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence).

The venue was symbolic as it was also location of a public meeting on September 5, 1911, when the Irish Women Workers’ Union was founded. Constance Markievicz was among those to address that meeting.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said it was “wonderful” to reach the point where Ireland could sign-up to the convention.

He said it has enabled the Government to build on our existing legal framework “by introducing a suite of new laws to tackle different forms of violence against women, including domestic violence and psychological violence”.

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) described the ratification as a “landmark day”.

NWCI Director Orla O’Connor said: “Today, it is important to give a special thank you to women who showed such bravery in speaking out about their experiences of domestic and sexual violence and abuse, and their experiences of being re-victimised in family and criminal courts.”

The Cabinet also agreed the text of the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill which will introduce measures to reduce the gender pay gap.

Mr Varadkar said the pay gap between men and women is “roughly” 14pc.

The new laws will require companies of 250 or more employees to complete and publish a wage survey. It will include both full-time and part-time employees and will extend to bonus payments and benefits-in-kind.

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