National Workshop on Consent and Sexual Violence in Third Level Institutions


Thank you. Good Morning and can I first of all just congratulate my colleague Minister Mitchell O’Connor and her team on putting together such a comprehensive gathering this morning. I am delighted to see strong representation from my own department but it’s good to see too attendees from ALL stakeholders students, colleges and services, as we all try to come to terms with how best to deal with growing reports of and instances of sexual violence on our campuses.

Sexual violence is a concern for us all, no matter when or where it occurs.  But there’s something particularly sad about it erupting at a stage of life which should be so full of promise.   Third level should be a period of growth, independence, and discovery, but as our young people go through that period of their lives, we, as a society really need our young women to be safe, and our young men to understand what is expected and required of them.  

So how do we get to that stage?  Well first of all, we have to understand the situation as it is, what is being done at the moment, and where if anywhere there are gaps. 

That is why today is so valuable.  It is the start of the national conversation which has been called for on this issue.  I absolutely welcome it.   I congratulate Minister Mitchell on beginning it, and I look forward to co-operating with her in progressing whatever initiatives come from it.

What’s really important here is integration and joined up thinking. That’s why I am particularly pleased that the head of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau Detective Chief Superintendent Declan Daly is with us, along with Detective Inspector Michael Lynch.  Their presence underlines the seriousness of sexual crime and the seriousness with which the government and the Gardaí take it. 

We are fully committed to doing all we can to support victims of sexual violence and hold perpetrators to account.  As I’m sure you know, my Department co-ordinates the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence. The strategy has a number of relevant actions in the area of education – indeed we will be hearing about the EU funded ESHTE project later. Another key action of the strategy is a national awareness raising campaign which, from 2019, will focus on sexual violence. And in addition, I’m anxious to ensure that legislation concerned with extraterritorial jurisdiction, which will enable Ireland to ratify the Istanbul Convention in early 2019, is enacted this year.

To respond effectively, we need information my department will very shortly bring proposals to Cabinet on how we collect date on sexual abuse and violence,  that project, sometimes referred to as SAVI 2 will be really significant but really significant too, is the information and insight we will gather today.

Once again I want to congratulate Minister Mitchell O’Connor on bringing together such a gathering of relevant parties here. It is a real challenge to act but my department, I want to assure her, is ready to take up that challenge.


Thank you.