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Taoiseach asks ministers to examine if Irish statistics on sexual violence need updating

There have been calls for the SAVI report, commissioned 15 years ago, to be updated.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr Katherine Zappone
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr Katherine Zappone
Image: RollingNews.ie

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has asked ministers to examine if Irish statistics on sexual violence are adequate or if new research needs to be carried out.

The government has recently faced criticism for not committing to fund a €1 million study to follow up and update the SAVI report on sexual violence, which was the first national survey to assess sexual abuse and violence in Ireland.

The report, commissioned 15 years ago, detailed the prevalence of sexual violence in relation to age and gender of over 3,000 adults. It focused not only on the responses of those abused, but also on the attitudes and perceptions of the general public to sexual violence.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone and Health Simon Harris, have been asked by the Taoiseach to consider if the statistics currently available to the Irish government on sexual violence are adequate.

Adequate statistics 

They are also to examine if the statistics are compatible with those collected in other EU countries. If an information gap is identified, the ministers must also consider whether a second SAVI study – or an alternative form of study – is the best way to obtain new statistics.

During Leaders’ Questions this week, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald hit out at the Taoiseach for failing to commit to carrying out a new report.

The issue was also raised the week previous, where the Taoiseach said he was investing in services rather than research, which McDonald said is not acceptable.

She said those in Cabinet, including Minister Zappone and the Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, have voiced in the past that they want another report commissioned.

“We need both and we need them to be properly funded,” she said. She told the Dáil five reports could be commissioned if the Taoiseach put the €5 million funding aside which is currently being dedicated to his new Strategic Communications Unit.

original Minister Simon Coveney in the Dáil this week. Source: Oireachtas TV

Yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the government will provide €1 million to commission the new report “if it is the right thing to do”.

However, he said the money had not been set aside in the Budget this year.

“The issue is whether or not we should now prioritise spend on further research to build on that which is already there but outdated. I will take my advice from the experts in this area through the Department. If trying to find €1 million for this research is the right thing to do, the government will do it,” he said.

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