Forum needed to establish extent of abuse in sporting organisations

Ivana Bacik TD
09 July 2024

Following the emergence of allegations as part of the Girls in Green programme, at Leaders’ Questions today, Labour Leader Ivana Bacik TD called for the establishment of a forum, open to current and former participants of all sporting organisations, to come forward with allegations of institutional harassment and abuse.

Deputy Bacik said:

“Systemic abuse and harassment of women and children is back in the news due to the reporting of RTÉ Investigates and the Sunday Independent, who gave a platform to brave women who have levelled grave allegations of historical sexual abuse within the FAI. I pay tribute to those brave women, who have done the State a service in speaking out.

“Irish society must reckon with the reason why stories of abuse and failings throughout so many organisations have become nearly commonplace. Unfortunately, this country is no stranger to horrific abuses of power, perpetrated against people of all ages, and in many different settings. The FAI is not the first organisation – or, indeed, sports body – to face historical allegations.

“I welcome the engagement by the FAI, and that criminal investigations are proceeding, where appropriate. Doing right by the whistleblowers requires that further action is taken at a governmental level. In the Dáil today, I called on the Taoiseach to establish a forum, whereby participants in any and all sporting organisations can disclose historical abuse and harassment. It is vital that, where appropriate, any disclosure of a criminal offence leads to a criminal investigation. However, also important are those cultural and process-based failings.

“We welcome that Sporting Ireland and others have incorporated new safeguarding and accountability mechanisms. However, the testimony of those who have suffered from abuse and toxic power dynamics is invaluable also for improving and strengthening those processes.

“It is not enough for us legislators to sit and wait for courageous individuals to blow the whistle. The government must actively seek this information to root out the rot which allows systemic abuse to foment. I was glad to hear the Taoiseach respond positively to our proposal and I look forward to hearing more from him and the Ministers at the Department of Sport on how they will progress it.”

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