Taoiseach promises full State support for Athlone sex attack victims

FF leader says there is understandable concern across every community

File image of Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil

File image of Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil

Tue, Oct 1, 2013, 17:42

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said there will be full State support for the two young girls who were victims of a sexual assault in Athlone on Saturday.

He said it was utterly devastating that a community should be shattered by that kind of news in an afternoon. “It is a case of understanding the sensitivity surrounding programmes and educational matters about these things,’’ he said.

“Every child should be entitled to a childhood and the innocence…and the innocence of playing and all of that is so important as part of their personality and formation.’’

Mr Kenny, who was speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, said the initiation of the child and family agency meant there were 388 social workers in place following the recommendation from the Ryan report.

“This cannot happen quickly enough, but clearly not in time for these young girls,’’ he added.

The Taoiseach was replying to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who said the horrific violation of the innocence of children had spread understandable and genuine concern across every community. A comprehensive programme involving the different agencies was now required.

He added there was a need to reflect on the matter and redouble efforts to take whatever additional steps were required to ensure that in every community across the country there was a a robust child protection framework embracing education, media, health and security.

Sustained campaigns about protecting children should be looked at, said Mr Martin.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said he shared the sentiments and concerns expressed by Mr Kenny and Mr Martin. There was a particular need to provide prompt and effective multi-agency aftercare, particularly counselling, for victims of abuse.