Female councillors are ‘sick’ of being told what to do and where to go to stay safe

January 31st, 2022 10:30 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Cllr Gobnait Moynihan: ‘I’m angry about this.’

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FEMALE councillors have spoken of how ‘sick’ they are of being told that what they as women can or can’t do.

Cllr Eileen Lynch (FG) has called on Cork County Council to hold a cross-county awareness campaign on gender violence, in the wake of the murder of schoolteacher Ashling Murphy in Offaly two weeks ago.

Cllr Lynch said that as councillors it’s their duty is to open up dialogue on the issue and work to change the narrative.

‘Personally, as a young woman I’m sick of it, and sick of being told  that as a woman it’s not safe to do something and being at the end of commentary that our male counterparts don’t receive. This has to be a watershed moment and we have to call it out,’ said Cllr Lynch.

‘We, as both men and women, need to work together, and we owe it to Ashling Murphy and to the many other victims of gender-based violence, as well to the upcoming generation of young women and girls in our country,’ she added.

Cllr Gobnait Moynihan (FF) said that the fact they are speaking about it is progress in itself. ‘I’m angry about this and I’m sick of this as well, about what we can’t do and this list is endless of things we can’t do – like we shouldn’t go out late at night on our own or we shouldn’t wear certain clothes,’ she said.

‘I’m a runner and I run on a daily basis and when am I meant to run? It’s dark when I finish work. I’m just really fed up with it and am glad that we are having this debate,’ she told a meeting this week.

County mayor Cllr Gillian Coughlan, who seconded the motion, called on the Council to pre-empt the national campaign.

Meanwhile, local TD Holly Cairns said that the past week has been a defining moment for gender-based violence in Ireland.

‘Now it is our turn as legislators to respond. Not just to give speeches but to ensure substantial and effective policies,’ the Social Democrat TD said.

She added that interventions must be early and effective and penalties for perpetrators must be robust and effective. And she noted that support providers such as West Cork Women Against Violence have seen significant increases in people fleeing domestic violence during the pandemic.

‘There must be reforms in how policing and the courts system engage with victims. And we need much better education on consent, sexual violence, coercion, and other types of assault, including online crimes.’

In relation to the incident publicised by Evie Nevin, (right), Deputy Cairns said she asked the Minister for Justice to legislate for the specific crimes of stalking and cyberflashing. ‘We need to ensure that the law is effective in dealing with assaults and harassment that girls and women face.’

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