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Tuesday, 28th November 2023

Breaking the Taboo – Drogheda’s response to gender based, sexual and domestic violence

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Margaret Geraghty of Soroptomists International (left) with Alison Comyn at the launch of the  the United Nations 16 Day campaign to call for an end to gender based, sexual and domestic violence. Photos by Jenny Callanan.

The Breaking the Taboo Network is a collaboration of local groups and statutory organisations in the Drogheda area who have come together to raise awareness and to call for the elimination of gender based, sexual and domestic violence.

The Breaking the Taboo network is participating in the United Nations 16 Day campaign as a way to raise awareness of this issue in the Drogheda area which was launched yesterday, 27th November, in the Marcy Hotel.  

Members of the Breaking The Taboo Network, Drogheda Soroptomists and representatives from St. Olivers School at the launch.

Initially members of the Breaking the Taboo Network congregated at St. Peter’s Church to visibly highlight the campaign to the community of Drogheda.

They were joined on the steps by students from St. Oliver’s’ Community College which is the first “white ribbon” school in Ireland and one of three schools nationally piloting an innovative new programme aimed at giving secondary teachers and other education professionals the knowledge and skills to engage students around preventing and responding to School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV).

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This programme is delivered by Mens Development Network and funded by the Department of Justice.

The event in the Marcy Hotel was opened by Alison Comyn who shared some startling statistics about gender based violence in Ireland, calling out the names of each woman who has been murdered since the death of Aisling Murphy.

Students from St. Olivers School, Daniela Bruza, Reah McDonnell, Sophie Sheehan, Sarah OÕGorman and Niamh Walsh with their teacher Barbara Carr at the Launch.

Attendees then heard from Margaret Geraghty of Soroptomists International about the origins of the campaign in Drogheda and it’s expansion with the support of the Breaking the Taboo network.

You could hear a pin drop in the packed room as Rita Geraghty told her personal experience of domestic abuse, with attendees rising to their feet to give her a standing ovation as she completed her story.

Maeve Harkin of Louth Local Development spoke about the power of collaboration and how by working together local organisations can find power and amplify the message of zero tolerance of domestic, sexual and gender based violence.

Daniela Bruza and Sophie Sheehan from St.Oliver's School at the Launch.

The campaign was then formally launched by Alison Comyn who thanked everyone for coming in particular elected representatives and Chief Superintendent Alan McGovern.

The UN 16 days campaign uses the colour orange to represent a brighter future, free from gender based, sexual and domestic violence as a unifying theme running through all its global activities.

The ‘Orange the World’ theme was very prominent at the launch with attendees wearing orange and Soroptomists International Drogheda branch members arranging a display of orange shoes and umbrellas on the steps of St Peters and throughout the hotel to represent victims of abuse.

Cllr. Paddy McQuillan, Grainne Berrill, Chief Supt. Alan McGovern, Rita Geraghty, Principal of St Olivers John Halpin and Cllr. Declan Power at the Launch.

Louth County Council are lighting up monuments around the county in orange to lend their support to the campaign.  

Members have also been encouraging the business community to show their support through the One Million Stars project; where handmade orange stars are displayed in the windows of business and other premises.

The One Million Stars Ireland project is an inclusive community arts project connecting communities across Ireland in solidarity against domestic abuse and all forms of violence. Keep an eye out for the stars in the windows of local retailers, those premises have information sheets with a QR code to access relevant support services and phone numbers.

Speakers Maeve Harkin, Rita Geraghty, Margaret Geraghty and MC Alison Comyn at the Launch.

A calendar of activity across the 16 days was also launched at the event in The Marcy. Members are also carrying out social media campaigns to complement events on the calendar, using the hashtags #UN16Days #OrangeTheWorld and #OneMillionStars. The public are asked to keep an eye out for and share these to amplify the message even further.

Members of the Breaking the Taboo network:

  • An Garda Siochána
  • Connect Family Resource Centre
  • Culture Connect
  • Drogheda Implementation Board
  • Drogheda Women’s and Children’s Refuge
  • Hands 4 Unity
  • Lifestyle Development Group
  • Louth Local Development
  • Louth Volunteer Centre
  • Men’s Aid
  • Rape Crisis North East
  • Soroptomists International Drogheda
  • SOSAD Ireland
  • The Barbican Centre
  • The Red Door Project
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