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Vincent Browne: 'We have a major problem with sexual abuse in our society, yet it gets no attention, nothing'

Veteran broadcaster Vincent Browne was talking at the Festival of Politics.

VETERAN BROADCASTER VINCENT Browne has taken a swipe at the current state of political journalism in Ireland, saying that the important issues in Irish society are not being given proper airtime.

Speaking at the launch of the Festival of Politics, Browne said that journalism was failing to report on poverty in Ireland and the people on the margins of society.

Browne highlighted in particular failures to report on the problem of sexual abuse in Irish society.

Commenting on the recent revelations around Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and the court case surrounding ex-Irish Times journalist Tom Humphries, Browne said that more needed to be done to report on widespread abuse in Ireland.

“I must say I was very impatient and irritated by the prominence given to the Harvey Weinstein, Tom Humphries and the other issues over the last while,” said Browne.

“And it’s not because I thought that what they did was in any way acceptable or anything.

But that we have known for years if we opened our bloody eyes… about the mass sexual abuse of women and of children but we paid no attention.

Browne referenced the 2002 Savi report which was sponsored by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and looked into sexual abuse and violence in Ireland.

“I can’t remember anybody in political journalism ever reflecting a single thing about the Savi report,” said Browne.

“It showed that 200,000 women in our society had been raped in the course of our lifetime. And 60,000 men have been raped.

Now that would strike me as a major epidemic. Particularly when you add in the number of women who haven’t been raped but have been sexually assaulted and the number of women who have suffered other non-contact sexual abuse.

“Major problem”

“We have a major problem with sexual abuse in our society, and yet it gets no traction, no attention, nothing,” said Browne.

There is no traction, nobody bothers about it. And nobody thinks that it’s a major problem in our society. And on and on we go.

He said that he had attended a meeting earlier of Spark (Single Parent Acting for the Rights of our Kids) and that he had been shocked by stories he had heard.

In a wider sense, Browne said that political journalism, in particular, was “invariably about nothing that matters”.

“Whether it’s Fianna Fail is on the up or the down, whether it’s Leo Varadkar has new socks or doesn’t have new socks,” he said.

“It’s almost always, always is boring and irrelevant.

The disappointing thing about political journalism – and this isn’t something new this is something that’s been going on and on all the time – is that they never deal with the issues that matter.

The Festival of Politics will run from 22-26 November. You can get more information here

Read: ‘Ah Jaysis’: Vincent Browne was his usual self last night even with a fitting choral sendoff

Read: ‘People on low pay are not middle class’: Leo faced tough questions from Vincent Browne last night

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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