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SICK TAUNTS Sinn Fein TD says most women have been harassed on public transport after reports of DART rape threats

'I believe that this is so common I would hardly be able to think of any of my female friends who have not had a similar experience,' Louise O’Reilly has said.

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Sinn Fein TD Louise O’Reilly (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Fein TD Louise O’Reilly (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Fein TD Louise O’Reilly (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Fein TD Louise O’Reilly has said she believes the harassment of female passengers on public transport is so common that she cannot think of any of her female friends who have not endured unwanted attention. 

Deputy O’Reilly was speaking in the wake of reports of how a group of males shouted rape threats at a woman who was getting off the DART in Dublin earlier this week.

An investigation is underway after Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell, who was onboard the DART at the time, highlighted the incident on Twitter.

Mr Farrell described the behaviour of the men as “depressing” as he recalled how “chants of ‘let’s rape her’ were heard amongst lads, after lone women exited the train, before our final destination”.

Irish Rail has said it has CCTV footage of the incident which happened on Wednesday night and say they are confident the group will be identified.

Deputy O’Reilly, who spoke out after a poll that revealed how nearly one in every two female TDs and senators had been followed while walking alone after dark, said she was not alone.

“I believe that this is so common I would hardly be able to think of any of my female friends who have not had a similar experience,” she said.

“It is very, very common and it is the reason why most women don't feel safe walking alone at night.

"It's the reason why my husband collects me from the train station if it's dark, which I have to say, I hate that he has to do that.

“I don't like walking home alone on my own.

"I don't like getting the train on my own and if it’s a late night service I’ll try to avoid it.”

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She added: “I think this is something that probably every woman in Ireland has experienced, either on the streets or on public transport, where they can relate to that experience.”

Mary Crilly, director of the Cork Sexual Violence Centre, has said this type of behaviour has been happening on public transport for years.

“With a situation like that you need more visibility and more monitoring of what is happening,” she said.

“People are afraid to speak out. People [who witness it] are afraid to get involved in case they are beaten up. Which I totally understand.”

Ms Crilly urged public transport users who see lone women being abused in this manner to go and sit next to them.”

It is a point that Deputy Reilly has also suggested.

“We need to offer support to the victim without confronting the perpetrators,” she said.

“So, if you see that happening on a bus or a train, instead of turning around and confronting the fellas who are doing this, walk over to the victim and ask are they okay.

“I think information campaigns like the White Ribbon are very good but I think it is very much associated with domestic abuse.

"But the abuse a person experiences specifically on public transport needs to be framed as gender-based violence because that’s what it is.

“It’s not some gobshite annoying me on the DART. We need to give it its proper, formal name, that this is what it is, and this is the impact that it has.”

Deputy O’Reilly said she had also experienced abuse on public transport and while it was “nothing compared to the woman on the DART”, it ranged from "someone just being a bit of a nuisance, to somebody maybe looking for your phone number”.

“Years ago, when I was a much younger woman than I am today, a guy sat behind me on the bus and he kept stroking my hair, which was very disturbing.

"And actually, a great thing about the pandemic was that people could not sit beside you.

“And with a mask and a hat on, you would be unrecognised as a public figure,” she added.

“Before that I’ve often had to get off a bus because of unwanted attention and wait for the next one.

“It’s worse if it's a group of men but sometimes it can be just one man. And it's not all men, I don’t want to give that impression or that I walk around terrified all the time.

"But I am alert to the fact that you don't know if the person is messing, if they’re just waiting to get a reaction and walk off, or if they are actually going to go for you.”

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