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'I can still see that man's face' - Dublin Lord Mayor plans to make city safer after own experience of assault

The new Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland says safety on the streets of the capital is a prio...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

22.08 13 Jul 2021


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'I can still see that man's fa...

'I can still see that man's face' - Dublin Lord Mayor plans to make city safer after own experience of assault

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

22.08 13 Jul 2021


Share this article


The new Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland says safety on the streets of the capital is a priority for her as she begins her new role.

She says she will examine various safety measures - and also plans to make LGBT flags and colours a permanent fixture to emphasise inclusiveness.

Lord Mayor Gilliland, who was elected two weeks ago, says she has had her own experience of assault.

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She told Lunchtime Live: "When I was in my early 20s I was abroad, I was in Spain, and I was out running.

"It was early in the morning - it was commuter time - and a man was coming towards me.

"In hindsight I could see that he has a weird grin on his face, and he literally grabbed me between the legs as I was running.

"And I was completely shocked, taken aback - and I just ran, I ran, I ran and I ran.

"I never walked around down that road again.

"It has stayed with me, and I know there are other women out there who have had much worse happen them.

"But it's just the fact that somebody would invade your body in such an unwanted manner.

"And it does leave an impact; I can still see that man's face, and that's well over 20 years ago".

And closer to home she has experienced feeling unsafe, having had her drink spiked in Dublin.

"Myself and a friend were in a bar having a night cap - and I know the first thing people think of: 'Oh well you'd too much to drink'.

"But I know it wasn't - it was quite early on in the night and we were leaving early in a taxi.

"I didn't know if I'd actually managed to get home, I could feel this sort of heaviness come on me and not feeling very well.

"And the next 24 hours were just feeling horrible, my friend was in the exact same situation.

"I've had another friend in a very similar situation, and it's that idea of somebody taking over your body - or taking over your control - to do something that's going to violate you or to hurt you".

'Pride flags year-round'

On her general plans, she says there are many ways to make the city safer and more inclusive.

"We've a variety of ways in which we can do this, and one of them is around visibility.

"I suppose by being a woman myself in the role of Lord Mayor, I have a consciousness of gender when we look at our city.

"For example if you're a mum and you have a buggy and you're in town, one of the things that you might like to see is an odd bench here and there where you can sit down and maybe feed your baby or have a sandwich.

"That's one of the elements: the other is around safety - visibility of An Garda Síochána in our streets, good lighting.

"But also an education programme I think for people around harassment and a zero tolerance for harassment, particularly of whether it be women, minorities or LGBT.

"One of the things we want to do with regards to LGBT is round the year visibility.

"I think we do it brilliantly at Pride where we have the flags, we now have the Pride flag on some of our streets painted, and that's something I want to see year-round.

"So the message is always there: that we are an inclusive LGBTQI+ city".

Asked if she feels safe in the capital, Lord Mayor Gilliland says: "If I was alone on a street and it was dark and [there was] no one around, I would be very conscious that I was alone.

"Also conscious that women have been attacked, minorities have been attacked, LGBT colleagues have been attacked in the streets.

"And it's not necessarily the streets that are unsafe it's people's behaviour, certain people's behaviour on the streets, make it unsafe.

"I think as a woman, you generally have it at the back of your head that somebody might attack you or harass you.

"I don't think there's a woman out there that doesn't have that little niggle in the back of her head if she's walking late at night and it's dark."

A number of women have spoken to Lunchtime Live about their experiences, after Fine Gael Minister Josepha Madigan revealed she is a survivor of sexual assault.

'I can still see that man's face' - Dublin Lord Mayor plans to make city safer after own experience of assault

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can contact Women's Aid on 1800-341-900 or the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre at 1800-77-8888

Main image: Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland. Picture by: Conor McCabe Photography

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Alison Gilliland Assault Dublin Lord Mayor Inclusiveness LGBT Flags Lord Mayor Of Dublin Spain

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