Irish government pledges ‘zero-tolerance’ to gender violence after woman’s murder

Ireland’s Justice Minister has promised a zero-tolerance approach to gender violence following the murder of 23-year-old teacher Ashling Murphy last week. [Shutterstock / Marcelo F Junior]

Ireland’s Justice Minister has promised a zero-tolerance approach to gender violence following the murder of 23-year-old teacher Ashling Murphy last week.

Murphy was attacked while out running in the afternoon on 12 January; police are still searching for her killer. The murder has prompted outrage and an outpouring of grief in Ireland, with vigils held in Murphy’s memory this weekend across the country and beyond.

It has also renewed discussion of women’s safety amidst what Tánaiste Leo Varadkar on Friday described as an “epidemic of violence against women”. The killing, he added, marked a “watershed moment” for Ireland, the response to which he said should be led by the government.

Lawmakers have called for an urgent and centralised response. “We need the Government to have a very, very clear focus to work to resolve these issues,” Jennifer Whitmore of the Social Democrats told broadcaster RTÉ, echoing comments made by her colleagues.

A new government strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence will be set out in early March, Justice Minister Helen McEntee told Newstalk radio on Sunday. The policy will build on past work, she said, and will require the involvement of all government bodies, the police and the community to ensure success.

“We’re building on the progress that has been made, and we have made progress,” she said. “But we’re looking at it slightly differently. We have set a clear goal: zero tolerance,” she added.

“I myself have often decided, ‘well, I’ll go out for a walk at this time of the day or I’ll go to this area because it could be safer’”, she added. “That shouldn’t be the case. And what we’ve seen now is everybody in society coming together to say this should not be the case. We should not tolerate this,” McEntee also said.

(Molly Killeen | EURACTIV.com)

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