Sporting bodies unite to tackle domestic abuse

Campaign messages will be featured in match programmes and will be played on video screens at pitch-side. Credit: Michael Cooper Photography

Three sporting bodies have united as part of a campaign to tackle domestic abuse.

The Irish Football Association, Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association, and Ulster Rugby have given their support to Department of Justice in the fight against domestic violence and abuse.

The ‘Don’t Tackle It Alone’ campaign will be delivered to tens of thousands of spectators at leading sports fixtures over the next few months.

The approach is designed to encourage anyone who has concerns to seek help and report domestic abuse.

Campaign messages will be featured in match programmes and will be played on video screens at pitch-side. Players will be adding their personal support in a number of ways including wearing warm up t-shirts featuring the campaign strapline and hashtag.

The campaign gets underway on Friday night when Ulster take on Southern Kings at the Kingspan Stadium.

It will also feature at prominent matches in the coming months including the Dr McKenna Cup Final, and during Northern Ireland’s international friendly against South Korea in March.

The campaign is the results of twelve months of work between the Department and the three sporting organisations to develop a programme of education and participation.

Anthony Harbinson, DoJ Head of Community Safety Division said: “Domestic violence and abuse, which often features sexual abuse, is significantly under reported. Tackling it is everyone’s responsibility and we are delighted to be working in partnership with Irish FA, UGAA, and Ulster Rugby to raise awareness and to deliver a clear message that anyone who thinks they or someone they know is being abused don’t have to tackle it alone.”

Shane Logan, Chief Executive, Ulster Rugby said, “Ulster Rugby is fully behind this important initiative, which raises awareness of domestic abuse and offers encouragement to victims to seek support.

“I commend the Department of Justice on this programme and I’m pleased that Ulster Rugby, Ulster GAA and the Irish FA can assist in its delivery.”

Ulster GAA CEO, Brian McAvoy said, "Ulster GAA are committed to working with our partners in the Irish Football Association, Ulster Rugby, and the Department of Justice to help raise awareness of this very important issue. We hope this campaign will encourage those with concerns to speak-out and get the help they need; and that ultimately we can help to reduce the incidence of domestic abuse.”

Irish FA Chief Executive, Patrick Nelson, added: “I am pleased that the Irish Football Association is partnering with our colleagues in Ulster GAA and Ulster Rugby to deliver this important awareness campaign. No-one should have to tackle domestic abuse alone and my hope would be that with the three sports working together to promote this message, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, that we can reduce instances of abuse and direct people to where they can find help.”