Sports celebrities ‘strutting around with impunity despite sex assault allegations’, Dáil told

TD asks ‘are women to go into hiding every time a sports star decides on a night out’

Ruth   Coppinger raised the issue a year after she held up underwear in the Dáil to highlight the questioning of rape victims during trials. File photograph: Oireachtas TV

Ruth Coppinger raised the issue a year after she held up underwear in the Dáil to highlight the questioning of rape victims during trials. File photograph: Oireachtas TV

 

The Government has failed to address the epidemic of sexual violence in Ireland despite promises of action a year ago, it has been claimed.

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger said “is it any wonder we have reports of famous sports celebrities strutting around with impunity, despite sexual assault allegations”.

She asked “are women to go into hiding every time such a figure decides on a night out”.

Speaking during leaders’ questions in the Dáil on Wednesday the Dublin West TD said the murder of 14-year-old Ana Kriégel by two teenagers was “probably the most extreme example of sexual assault and misogyny the country has seen”.

On Tuesday the teen known as Boy A, who was convicted of murder and aggravated sexual assault, was sentenced to life with a review after 12 years for murdering the 14-year-old. He was also sentenced to 12 years for an aggravated sexual assault on Ana, which will run alongside the murder sentence.

His co-accused, known as Boy B, was sentenced to 15 years for murder with a review after eight years.

Ms Coppinger told the Dáil that a year after the Government promised a report in the wake of the Belfast rape trial when well known rugby players were acquitted, there had been no action on education about consent, funding or supports for sexual assault victims.

Ms Coppinger raised the issue a year after she held up underwear in the Dáil to highlight the questioning of rape victims during trials.

She said the inclusion of the definition of consent in law was not worth the paper it was printed on as sexual assault complainants continued to be treated badly in court cases.

“Barristers are still trotting out the same old rape myths,” she said.

She said that last month the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said there was an epidemic of sexual violence in the country.

But €25million in total had been granted to the entire support sector for sexual assault services while the Government gave €17 million to a “cruel” greyhound industry.

The Taoiseach said that like the rest of the world Ireland has “an epidemic of gender-based violence and it has to stop.”

Leo Varadkar said the Government was keenly aware of the need for change in many areas. Increased resources were being put in place and changes in the law were planned including making stalking an offence.

The Government had ratified the Istanbul convention and had also changed the law on consent. Mr Varadkar also said there were improvements in the systems for recording sexual offences.