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19th Jan 2022

Politicians agree on “cross-party” approach to tackle violence against women

Stephen Porzio

It comes as tributes were paid in the Dáil to Ashling Murphy.

Politicians in the Dáil on Wednesday agreed on a “cross-party approach” to tackling violence against women following the murder of Ashling Murphy last week.

The 23-year-old primary school teacher was attacked and killed while out jogging along the canal bank at Cappincur in Tullamore, Offaly at around 4pm last Wednesday.

The Dáil opened this Wednesday (19 January) with Leas Ceann Comhairle Catherine Connolly extending her “deepest condolences” to all who knew Ashling.

This was before other TD’s paid tribute to Ashling throughout Leaders’ Questions, including Labour leader Alan Kelly, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

“Ashling Murphy was not the first woman to die in a random violent attack as she went about her business in broad daylight on the banks of the Grand Canal,” McDonald said addressing the Taoiseach.

“Others have met violent deaths going to work, coming home in daylight and in dark.

“The streams of stories, personal experiences and traumatic narratives that flood our airwaves is stark testimony that male violence against women, harassment of women, degradation of women is endemic, pervasive and ever-present in Irish life.

“We must choose action, united persistent action to end the violence, the threat of violence, the fear of violence that blights the lives of women and girls.”

She added that Ashling’s death “must mark a turning point” and called for a meeting of political leaders to be convened “urgently”.

“We need to unite in agreeing and driving immediate and long-term action to eliminate violence against women,” McDonald said.

“I ask you Taoiseach to convene this meeting as head of government.”

In response, Martin said he would convene a meeting of leaders, calling it “a good idea”.

“There should be a cross-party Oireachtas approach mirroring what society wants to do,” he stated.

“In that context, men need to listen more and men need to hear women more in terms of this issue and related issues.”

“You are correct,” he told McDonald: “Ashling isn’t the first young woman or woman to have been murdered violently in this manner.”

He said this needed to be eliminated from our society, along with the “undermining of women in a misogynistic way or in any other form”.

Martin added that this would take a multifaceted approach embracing “prevention and protection and security but also education”.

“In short, it needs a sea change in culture. Not just legislation and initiatives but a sea change in culture to eliminate this,” he told the Dáil.

The Taoiseach also said that Justice Minister Helen McEntee has been working on a national strategy to tackle domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and that it will be completed in early March.

“I want to share and absolutely endorse your position Taoiseach that we need on all of Oireachtas approach to this,” McDonald said following Martin’s comments.

“This isn’t a moment for party politics. This isn’t a moment for division. This is a moment for unity.”

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