Josepha Madigan reported verbal abuse by man near her home after exercise class

TD told Dáil of ‘under-reporting’ of incidents, encouraging ‘zero-tolerance approach’

Junior minister Josepha Madigan has said she was verbally abused by a man following a spin class close to her home on Wednesday morning and has reported the matter.

The Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion was speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday night, after Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns said there was “considerably more” the Government could do to address gender-based violence.

Ms Madigan, who represents Dublin-Rathdown, said she was struck by a comment made by Ms Cairns about the underreporting of gender-based violence by victims and survivors.

“I grew up in a very different era to you deputy [Cairns] and I think there is still underreporting, there was certainly a lot of underreporting in my day and it’s continuing,” Ms Madigan said.


“Even this morning, I went for a spin class just very near where I live, and I was crossing the road afterwards in my cycle shorts and I was verbally abused by a man coming towards me.

“I actually got such a shock that I didn’t even think it was directed towards me until I got into my car and he continued it.

“I reported that incident today. Now, maybe twenty or thirty years ago I wouldn’t have reported that, because that’s what we do as victims, feel we’re being silly, we feel stupid maybe doing it.

“But if we don’t tackle it, that type of misogyny, at something if you want to say as basic as that, even though it’s completely unacceptable, it’s not a murder like Ashling Murphy ... but that’s what’s happening in society so we have to stamp it out.

“I said to myself if we’re talking about a strategy then I have to embody it too and have a zero-tolerance approach, we all have to and it takes men as well, if they see that happening, if they see conversations happening that aren’t acceptable towards women, they need to call that out as well and we all have to play our part.”

Ms Cairns noted that last week was the first anniversary of Ashling Murphy’s murder, while a further 16 women had been killed on the island of Ireland since her death, including two already this year; Bruna Fonesca and Maud Coffey.

“These murders are just the tip of the iceberg. This epidemic is manifest in countless cases of assaults, domestic violence, torture, coercive control, financial abuse, harassment, stalking, so-called revenge porn, this horrifying list goes on,” she said.

“Last year there were vigils held across the country, there was a national demand for action. But we have to be honest, what has changed?

“Women continue to be killed, to live in fear, to message when they are home safely. While this is a complex issue that needs responses from all of society, there are concrete things that the Government can do and must do quicker to confront gender based violence.”

The Cork South-West TD called on the Government for more refuge spaces for women, a greater amount of domestic leave to be introduced, justice system reforms and education on consent, sexual violence, coercion, and online abuse.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times