Donegal Senator Eileen Flynn said Government action is needed now to address the ongoing issue of violence against women.

Senator Flynn said: “Many women plan on a daily basis how they negotiate their safety, either in the home or in their community.

“That should never be considered normal in our society. We cannot wait for the next tragedy before we address gender-based violence,” she said.

Senator Flynn, who lives in Ardara, said education and other support programmes are lacking in Donegal.

The senator said Minister Josepha Madigan told RTÉ that education was critical, with the minister saying she knew primary and secondary schools have education programmes around consent, sexual violence, and root causes.

Senator Flynn said: “Here in Donegal we have 200 transition-year students who won’t have that programme because the funding is not there.

“I met with the Donegal Rape Crisis Centre last week to learn more about the education workshop they provided for hundreds of Donegal transition-year students this past year. They had been contacted by other schools to provide the workshop this year, but have not received the funding they need to implement it.

“Prevention is better than intervention. If education is what the Government wants to support, they need to support that nationally and locally. Yes, society needs to change its behaviour in general, but services are needed – and must be supported – to educate all people around appropriate and inappropriate behaviour towards women.

“We need a cultural change and the only way we’re going to do that is with education, such as the workshops the Donegal Rape Crisis Centre provides in schools and other areas,” she said. Senator Flynn also addressed the Seanad on the importance of education programmes on Wednesday afternoon.

Senator Flynn said supports for women and children must also be strengthened.

The senator said: “We also have women’s domestic violence refuges and support services that are underfunded and under-resourced. The pandemic brought with it an epidemic of abuse and violence against women.

“Our domestic violence refuges are supported with minimal funding and topped up with donations and charity. I understand that nine counties do not even have a refuge.

“How can we expect these services to provide women and children with the supports and safety they deserve if they are not properly funded?” she asked.

Senator Flynn said: “We have to focus on supporting programmes that work to bring an end to these terrible acts of violence.”