Cork woman claims well-known senior TD sexually assaulted her at event
Aisling Twomey alleges the senior politician – a household name – ran his hand up her inner thigh in 2014 and now she feels sick when she sees him on TV
A woman has claimed a senior politician sexually assaulted her.
Aisling Twomey alleged the TD – a household name – ran his hand up her inner thigh at an event in 2014.
The 30-year-old, who works in banking, said she felt compelled to share her story after thousands of women used the recent #IBelieverHer campaign on Twitter to speak about similar experiences.
A separate senior male TD contacted Ms Twomey privately when she made the revelation on the social network and told her he wouldn’t be surprised if claims emerged of other sex attacks.
The Irish Mirror knows the identity of the deputy she accuses.
Ms Twomey said she had attended the event six years ago for work purposes.
She added: “I was wearing really light cotton trousers and he used his left hand on my right leg and at first I honestly thought it was a mistake so I sort of let it pass for a few seconds.
“But then his hand started moving up and up and up and he got pretty near the top of my inner thigh (outside her trousers).
“I just bolted up really abruptly and walked away from the table.
“He didn’t say a single word to me and when he did the actual assault, he stayed talking to the person on his opposite side.
“The problem is that’s a very practised thing, it’s not the kind of thing you do for the first time without any sense of nervousness or hesitation.”
Ms Twomey, from Co Cork, said as the alleged assault was happening, said feels she couldn’t react as she was there on behalf of her workplace at the time.
She added: “There were about 200 to 300 people in the room and I thought to myself, ‘I can’t really scream or shout or do anything about this, I don’t feel empowered to do that’.
“I was thinking the whole time, ‘There are so many things here that are preventing me from giving this man a slap across the face’.”
The former law student, who now lives in the UK, said she had to return to her seat on the night but sat as far away as possible on her chair and left the event early.
Ms Twomey added she feels sick when she sees the TD on TV and on social media.
She said: “It’s nauseous when you see him constantly everywhere.
“This is the first time I’ve mentioned it, I thought people should know it [sexual assault] is in politics too.
“I don’t think his behaviour would really be a shock to pretty much anyone to be honest.”
Ms Twomey added she appreciated the support of another well-known TD reaching out to her privately.
She said: Whether he knows who I’m talking about or not I can’t say, he was the only politician that arrived into my direct messages.
“He said to me he was expecting other stories to come out of Leinster House.
“Maybe he already has a sense that Leinster House is maybe a little bit dirtier than people might realise.
“It’s very hard to come forward about a politician, they’re obviously incredibly powerful. The whole thing has been really overwhelming.”
Ms Twomey told how she didn’t report the incident to gardai at the time or speak out about the assault sooner as she feels it was too big of a risk for her to come forward within a “fundamentally unfair system”.
Rape Crisis Centre chief Noeline Blackwell said Ms Twomey and other women’s stories on social media in the past week do “not come as a surprise”.
She added rape, sexual assault and harassment is an epidemic in our society and insisted there is a greater need for channels whereby victims can have a safe space to disclose incidents.
Ms Blackwell said: “We always say there is no class, creed or gender of a person exempt from being abused or from abusing.
“I think for the next Oireachtas there is a need to ensure the codes of conduct for those who are politicians at party level and Leinster House level that there are sufficiently robust systems in place to identify that any form of sexual harassment or abuse is entirely unacceptbale.
“And that there are systems in place to allow people to make a complaint and have it dealt with adequately respecting the rights of everyone involved.”