• By Admin

The three sectors in any economy are the Public, the Private and the Non-Profit.

We have been hearing a lot of promises recently, as is the norm, when a general election is imminent.

We see all the parties laying out their stalls via their manifestos. The Reverend Jesse Jackson in his address to the Equality Rights Alliance Conference in Dublin Castle yesterday, referred to a country’s Budget as needing to be a ‘moral document’.

How would it look if we were to extend his requirement for a Budget document, to the various parties’ manifestos? Would they stand up to the definition of what a ‘moral document’ according to The Rev. Jackson needs to be, that is a document which reflects the priorities, values and the ethos of a community, of a country?

How would our priorities, our values and our ethos stand up, when put to the moral test?

The following is a very sad reflection of some atrocities that happen in Ireland today.

In 2009 the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) accompanied 286 victims of recent rape and sexual assault to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) in the Rotunda Hospital.

In 2009 the HSE opened two new Sexual Assault Treatment Units, one in Mullingar in February and one in Galway in August, of that year. Both these units were welcomed and 65 victims were treated between Mullingar and Galway in 2009. The DRCC had an expectation that the number of victims accompanied by its trained volunteers would reduce because of the availability of the new units, but sadly this has not been the case.

In 2010 the centre’s volunteers accompanied 294 victims to the SATU. This is an increase on 2009.

Unfortunately we don’t know if the increase in victims’ reporting is because there is an escalation in the crimes of rape and sexual assault, or if it is because victims are better informed and will now come forward for treatment and will report these heinous crimes against women and men.

Whatever the reasons are, in the short term we must provide the resources to respond to the needs of these victims now.

In the longer term it is imperative that research is carried out so that we are better informed as to how these crimes are tackled.

We need a second ‘SAVI Report’ (Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland; Attitudes and beliefs etc. 2002). A firm commitment is required so that the age appropriate relationship programmes are delivered in all our schools and all other preventative methods are employed.

Our criminal justice system has to be rebalanced so that the victims in these cases are not further traumatised by their experiences in court. We need sentencing guidelines for judges, pre-release assessments and post release supervision for the convicted sex offender and programmes in place so that there is a definite deterrent to re-offending, to name but a few of the necessary changes that must take place in our society to combat this crime.

And it is good to see that many of the above are mentioned in the various Manifestos.

However on looking through the manifesto documents, there is no mention of the third sector of our economy, the non-profit sector, which employs 8% of the workforce and has 2% volunteers and makes up 8% of GDP in Ireland, according to a survey delivered by the ‘The Centre for Non-Profit Management’ Trinity College Dublin, in 2006.

Where will this workforce and the organisations that employ them, fit into the new Government’s plans and policies, when there is no mention of them in any manifesto?

Where will their funding come from when donations have been decimated by the recession? These organisations, like the DRCC, whose staff operate on frozen and cut salaries and whose trained volunteers give generously and continuously and who overall, provide caring, professional and value for money services to many of the most vulnerable in our society.

Maybe our priorities and our economy might change for the better if we were to follow the Rev. Jackson’s guidelines and treat the plans for the future of Ireland not only simply from a fiscal capital perspective but from a solidly worked out values perspective which would include not forgetting the all important third sector, but would include it.”

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