Mary Crilly is a founding member and CEO of the Sexual Violence Centre Cork. The Centre will mark 40 years of service provision on March 8th, 2023. A feminist activist, she has witnessed and been party to much of the change in Irish society and institutional responses to sexual violence. She is most noted for her tireless campaigning for policy and legislative change in the fields of sexual violence, sex trafficking, domestic violence female genital mutilation and human rights. She is active at local, regional, national and international levels. On her award of the Freedom of the City of Cork in June this year, An Taoiseach remarked on her innovative response to social issues throughout the years. The Safegigs Ireland project is the most recent example of her responsiveness and innovation. Safegigs Ireland was ‘born’ in 2018 as a campaign to respond to the experiences of audiences, creatives, artists and all working within the broader arts and entertainment sector, to challenge and tackle environments that were rife with harassment, micro-aggressions and sexual violence. The disruption that Covid brought allowed Safegigs to network with like-minded individuals and organisations within Ireland and beyond. It allowed Safegigs to consult widely on its draft charter. This charter forms the bedrock of what Safegigs is all about.
I have worked in the field of sexual violence for 40 years. Over those years, my team have helped thousands of victims to piece their lives back together, following rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment. Over those years we have also worked to change our laws and change our culture, so that everyone can live a free and safe life. Safegigs Ireland is a project we set up in pre-pandemic times. It promotes a ‘going out’ that is safe for everyone. Our manifesto states: no sexual violence, no sexism, no racism, no homophobia, no transphobia, no ableism, no ageism, no body shaming, no discrimination. This summer we attended many festivals and gigs to highlight our message. We believe Safegigs is good for the industry. We believe it is good for business. We know far too many young people who are fearful of going out. Safegigs is essentially a win-win. Ireland has not had a highly visible METOO era in the creative arts sector, but many have been working to document the wrongs that are rife in the sector. This work has begun to make a change in Ireland. We are proud of those changes that are being supported by government and funded by government. This includes the creation of free support services for artists and performers. www.creativeminds.ie. It includes the recently launched www.safetocreate.ie. This organisation is a resource for the Irish arts and creative sectors to promote dignity at work, and includes a facility to report abuses anonymously.