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The new programme for Government aims to have our country transformed when the proposed legislative and constitutional changes are completed and the DRCC welcomes and will support this aim in whatever way it can.
Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, Chief Executive, DRCC said “We welcome the commitment to ensure that Children’s Rights are strengthened along the lines recommended by the All Party Committee, and we look forward to a date for the required referendum.
We welcome the commitment to implementing the recommendations of the Ryan Report, to putting the Children First Guidelines on a statutory footing and to bringing forward the legislation for the use of ‘soft information’.
We see an increase in the take up of the services of the DRCC and unfortunately an increase in the instances of recent rape and sexual assault.
Despite the welcome addition of two new Sexual Assault Treatment Units (SATU) in Mullingar and Galway over the past eighteen months, the number of victims accompanied by our trained volunteers to the SATU in the Rotunda has increased in 2010.
However while the number of victims reporting these heinous crimes has increased we do not see these numbers translating to the criminal justice system.
Part of the reason is that victims of crime and their needs are not at the heart of the justice system. At the heart of our justice system is the right to a fair trial. However this is interpreted in practice as a fair trial for the accused.
Until the victim is afforded similar status as the accused in the criminal justice process, we will not have ‘fair trials’. We welcome the new government’s commitment to including the victim and their needs at the ‘heart of the justice process’.
We need to ensure that after reporting these crimes, victims will stay the course of the justice process and more perpetrators will be brought to justice.
Because so many victims fall out of the criminal justice process the conviction rate is only 7% of reported crimes. This does not help to deter perpetrators from reoffending.
In 2002 the SAVI Report was published and for the first time in Ireland we had the hard facts of the attitudes and beliefs to rape and sexual abuse in our society. Since then we have seen a year on year increase in the numbers of victims availing of the support of the DRCC and the publications of the Ryan and Murphy Reports again validated the stories we hear on the 24 hour National Helpline 1 800 77 88 88 and in the counselling rooms.
We need a second SAVI (Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland McGee et al 2002) so that we can compare what has happened over the past ten years and to inform our responses and policies in the area of sexual violent crimes.
We invite our new government as part of the implementation of their welcome plan to commit to supporting this research in order to deliver on the promise “…that Ireland will be a transformed country”.