Rape warning over Paddy's Day drinking
THE Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has issued a warning ahead of the St Patrick's Day celebrations this weekend.
The alert from the Dublin centre came as hundreds of thousands prepared to "drown the shamrock".
The advice from the DRCC: "Let your hair down but not your guard".
Under current Irish law, a person is guilty of raping another person "if they are reckless in their decision to pursue sexual contact without that person's consent.
"A person may not give their consent freely if they are asleep, are unconscious or severely impaired due to alcohol, are mentally impaired, are under 17 or have been coerced in any other way."
"When a person is taken advantage of in any of these circumstances, where they have not given their consent freely, they suffer the huge trauma of being raped," the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said.
Someone who is raped or sexually assaulted can call the National 24 Hour Helpline, 1800 77 88 88, if they need the help of a Rape Crisis Centre for a recent rape or childhood sexual abuse.
"If you are a family member or a friend and don't know what to do when someone close to you has been disclosed they have been raped or sexually assaulted, call this number and you will get the help you need," the DRCC said.
People partying this weekend should "always look out for each other and be part of a group", the centre warned.
They should keep their drink with them at all times, in case it is "spiked" and refuse to accept a drink from someone they have just met, even if he or she is a friend of a friend.
"Trust your instincts, if you feel uncomfortable in a place or with someone, leave as soon as possible," the DRCC advised.
People should make sure their mobile phone is charged and keep the helpline free phone number stored on it.
If you have to travel alone, make sure you phone ahead to give your estimated time of arrival -- and make sure your driver hears you phoning ahead.
"Remember, eight out of 10 victims are raped by someone known to them," the DRCC cautioned.