Sinn Féin leader welcomes progress on SAVI survey

Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has welcomed the Justice Ministers announcement that the CSO is to take charge of a major survey on the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland and has called on the Government to ensure that the CSO works closely with and learns from frontline organisations to ensure the value of the 2002 SAVI report is sustained.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“The Government’s decision to task the CSO with undertaking a major national sexual violence survey every ten years is a positive development. If we are to end the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence in Ireland it is vital that the state collect relevant and current data.

“The CSO is the state agency best placed to deliver this work. Vulnerable groups within Irish society must also be recognised in this objective, for example women in direct provision, with a disability or from the Traveller and Roma communities.

“This new model must ensure the data incorporates a whole of society approach.

“A year has passed since the Government announced its decision to update the 2002 SAVI research on sexual abuse and violence in Ireland and committed to the establishment of a Scoping Group to consider the availability of sexual abuse and violence data.

“The Groups report was submitted to the Minister 6 months ago. Stakeholder organisations engaged with the scoping exercise that followed and are to be commended for their considered engagement in the process.

“The Group recommended that a national survey be undertaken every ten years, and that that a range of supplementary data collection exercises to determine the experience of sexual violence of certain vulnerable and minority groups would be desirable in the intervening period.

“I am encouraged that the Minister and his cabinet colleagues have agreed to these recommendations however it is my strong view that this data responsibility must be subsumed into the annual work of the CSO with the accompanying budgetary increase for the agency and removed from the political gift of the Minister of the day. Domestic and gender based violence remains deeply rooted in Irish society.

“Data is fundamental to developing preventative and responsive policy and service solutions.

“It is disappointing to learn that the Terms of Reference for the scoping exercise did not include consideration of the significant shortfalls in data management within state agencies such as An Garda Síochána and the Court Services.

“I have highlighted time and again the years of under investment in critical IT infrastructure across the relevant agencies.  Information management and sharing systems are simply not fit for purpose and this shortfall has significant cost and service delivery implications.

“The initial allocation of €150,000 budget for 2019 is not sufficient and the timeframe of five years for completion of the survey is alarming.

“If this timeframe is not revised and the necessary budget provided for the state will have waited a quarter of a century for an up to date survey into the prevalence of domestic and gender based violence in Ireland. That simply is not good enough.”