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Two years on from the Zero Tolerance Strategy, how far are we from Zero Tolerance?

Published: Friday, June 28, 2024

Two years on from the Zero Tolerance Strategy, how far are we from Zero Tolerance for violence against women?

National Women’s Council says leniency of Cathal Crotty sentence is not unusual

The National Women’s Council (NWC) says unduly lenient sentencing in gender-based violence cases exposes the implementation deficits in the government’s Zero Tolerance Strategy on violence against women in key areas. Today marks two years since the publication of the strategy.

NWC Director Orla O’Connor said:

“Over and over again, we see brave women like Natasha O’Brien speaking out against the injustice of the justice system. We really commend them, because it is so difficult to share these traumatic stories. But they shouldn’t have to. Zero tolerance should mean zero tolerance. It shouldn’t mean zero tolerance, except where the perpetrator has a high-status career. Or zero tolerance, except where he’s from a good family. Or zero tolerance, except if someone can vouch for his ‘good character’.”

The National Women’s Council partnered with the Government on the development of the Third National (Zero Tolerance) Strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. Since its publication we have seen strong gains and we have repeatedly called for it to be fully funded and resourced. In the interim we have published a report on the disconnected nature of the justice systems to which victim-survivors of gender-based violence are exposed to, and we have repeatedly called for comprehensive and practical reforms, including training for all professionals who come into contact with them.

NWC’s Violence Against Women Coordinator Ivanna Youtchak said:

“The Zero Tolerance Strategy is excellent in its ambition and it recognises that it is only through a society wide effort that we will achieve real change. But without the proper resourcing, it cannot be effective. And women cannot wait any longer for progress on this issue. There were 40,000 domestic violence calls to Women’s Aid last year alone. Over half of women in Ireland will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. Each and every one of these women deserve justice for what they went through. And society needs to change so women aren’t subjected to male violence in the first place. It is long past time for zero tolerance.”

The implementation of the strategy by Cuan, the new government agency on gender-based violence, must start as soon as possible. The National Observatory on violence against women and girls published at the end of 2023 highlighted major gaps and progress in the implementation, as well as priorities for Cuan. We call for Cuan to be fully resourced in Budget 2025 in order to adequately fund frontline services; to carry out all of its functions to the highest standard; and to ensure a future where women can live a life free from violence.



For comment: Orla O’Connor and Ivanna Youtchak

Find here NWC’s report on the experiences of victim-survivors in their quest for justice: https://www.nwci.ie/learn/article/call_to_action_for_survivors_in_the_three_justice_systems

Find here the National Observatory report on the implementation of the Zero Tolerance Strategy: https://www.nwci.ie/images/uploads/IOVAW_monitoring_report_on_Zero_Tolerance.pdf

For more information, please contact Ivanna Youtchak ivannay@nwci.ie




About NWC

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters.

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie