Watch: Patrick Costello TD contributes to debate on ending Gender Based Violence

Full transcript of my contribution:

I thank the Minister for sharing time. She mentioned the two issues, namely, the non-fatal regulation and the specific offence of stalking. I raised these matters during Questions on Promised Legislation this morning. I am glad that the Minister remains committed to driving forward in respect of both of them.

While we are gathered here this evening because of the senseless murder of Ashling Murphy, like previous speakers I make reference to the fact that 244 women died in violent circumstances in recent years. I had wanted to read out all their names in order that people could hear of each and every life lost but I cannot do that in the short time available. That alone tells a story.

The point I want to drive home is that many speakers have talked about how men are responsible for this violence and how they need to be the solution. Men need to do more. The men of Ireland need to do what women have been asking of them for decades, namely, that they do more to keep women safe. That is a fundamental point. There is not just one thing that we can do. There are many interlinking policies and actions that can be introduced and things that we can do on legislative basis, on an individual basis and on a cultural basis to enable us, as men and Deputies, to have an impact in the context of that safety issue.

I wish to use my time to briefly highlight the fact that we need to start talking to young boys at a very early age about issues relating to consent and harassment. We should include this as part of our school curriculum. The Rape Crisis Network of Ireland reported that over a 12-month period, 80% of adolescents in the study it carried out disclosed sexual harassment. Some 63% disclosed that they were subjected to someone making unwelcome sexual comments, jokes or gestures in the school environment. That is just not good enough. Our continued inaction on this is just not good enough. If we are to make the necessary cultural change, we need to begin early. We need to begin by educating people about respect and consent and against harassment. From there, we need to grow and counteract the harm that is being caused and that is being done. Introducing a national policy to combat sexual harassment in secondary schools would be one tangible action that we could take. The fact that I am standing here talking about the education system again reflects that this is a complex, interlinking action that we all need to take responsibility for.

I welcome the motion. I also welcome the debate and the opportunity to contribute to it. Hopefully, I, too, can be part of the solution going forward.