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22 June 2006 Edition

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Lack of treatment for sexual assault victims "disgraceful" - Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called on the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to provide the €2.8 million funding needed now to fully implement the recommendations from the Government-commissioned report showing that treatment services for sexual assault victims are on the verge of collapse. Speaking in the Dáil at Leaders Questions on Tuesday, Deputy Ó Caoláin described as "disgraceful" the current situation where victims of sexual assault are not receiving the treatment they need because of staff shortages in existing facilities and because there are too few facilities around the country.

"A fortnight after the legal and political system was thrown into turmoil on the issue of protection of children and young people from sexual assault we now have a Government-commissioned report showing that treatment services for sexual assault victims are on the verge of collapse', Ó Caoláin said.

"We now have a disgraceful situation where victims of sexual assault are not receiving the treatment they need because of staff shortages in existing facilities and because there are too few facilities around the country. In the Taoiseach's own constituency, the main sexual assault unit for this city is in the Rotunda Hospital. It carries out 300 forensic examinations per year but the report says it's now at crisis point because of staffing shortages. Victims who are not filing a complaint to Gardaí can attend by appointment only - that is a disgrace.

"Most scandalous of all is the finding in the report that the lack of proper treatment and facilities is deterring victims from proceeding with cases against their attackers", he said.

"This report has been available to Government since November yet it is only being published now. In the interim period the Government should have put in place a plan and funding to implement all the recommendations in full. Victims of sexual assault have suffered enough without finding that services are not available when they have the courage to come forward and seek help.

"The Taoiseach must ensure that this reported is implemented now. The Government must provide for the recommended special facilities for interviewing sexual assault victims at one Garda station in each HSE area and the €2.8 million funding needed now to fully implement this report must be provided", said Ó Caoláin.

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