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Insult Dublin councillor who was victim of sexual assault slams budget funding for sex offenders

'I am appalled that the sex offenders get treatment whereas the poor victim is left with nothing'

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Earlier this year Councillor Donnelly went public about her own experience “at the hands of the Irish justice system”

Earlier this year Councillor Donnelly went public about her own experience “at the hands of the Irish justice system”

Earlier this year Councillor Donnelly went public about her own experience “at the hands of the Irish justice system”

A south Dublin councillor who was the victim of a sexual and physical assault has described budget funding for sex offenders as “an insult to victims”. 

Independent Councillor for Dún Laoghaire Rathdown, Deirdre Donnelly, expressed her “horror” at the recruitment of additional psychologists to support prisoners convicted of sexual violence.

It was announced yesterday that an additional €2.4m allocated in the budget to provide healthcare in prisons includes over €1m to allow the Irish Prison Service to recruit more psychologists and specialist mental health nurses.

Cllr Donnelly said that while she realised "that there are many vulnerable people in our prison system who need support, I am appalled that the sex offenders get treatment whereas the poor victim is left with nothing".

“I have spent thousands of euro on counselling and other medical expenses over the last three years and there is absolutely no support available," she added.

"I am particularly disgusted that a victim’s personal counselling records can be used in court whereas the accused’s is not. This is a clear violation of privacy and should be addressed.”

Earlier this year Councillor Donnelly went public about her own experience “at the hands of the Irish justice system” when she reported a sexual and physical assault that occurred a few years earlier.

"I stupidly put my faith in our legal system,” she said in July, as she revealed how she was harassed and groped by a man who she repeatedly moved away from and even shouted “stop” at a busy function.

Speaking the wake of Minister Josepha Madigan's powerful speech in the Dáil, in which she said she herself had survived sexual assault, Cllr Donnolly told RTÉ Radio 1's Liveline that while attending an event at an unnamed hotel, a man was “rubbing himself up against me. It was in a bar in full view of people, but nobody seemed to notice”.

She told how she left the event early but was then followed to her hotel room and as she tried to escape had stumbled, causing permanent damage to her already injured knee.

After she complained about his behaviour, she said she had "sadly learned that the criminal justice system was not designed to adequately support or protect victims of sexual abuse" and was desperately in need of serious reform.

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“We have a justice system in this country that is not fit for purpose. I don't think people realise how bad it is,” she said at the time

She described how she was denied access to the CCTV by the venue owners and how the gardaí refused to furnish her with a copy of her statement.

“The accused got an opportunity to hear my statement and to look at the CCTV,” she said. “I didn’t even get to keep a copy of my own statement. I ended up with physical injuries and when I asked the DPP why they didn’t charge the individual for that they said that the statute of limitations had expired.”

She is most critical of the lack of engagement from the DPP as well as the length of time it took before she heard about their decision.

“It was 22 months later before I got a final decision from them,” she revealed. “Imagine if there had been a court case. This would have gone on for years. I am extremely disappointed that there is nothing in the Justice budget to speed up this process.

“The emphasis is on the courts which is extremely important, but people don’t realise just how many cases are passed on by the Gardaí to the DPP that never get to court. The victim feels that they have been denied their right to justice.”

“The victims have absolutely no rights”, said Councillor Donnelly. “I can attest to that. I have been through it. Sadly this budget does not do nearly enough to help those who really need support.”

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