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NWCI calls on the Minister for Justice to ensure the safety of women in situations of domestic viole

Published: Wednesday, October 09, 2002

The National Women's Council of Ireland, which represents over 150 diverse women's groups and organisations in Ireland, has received many calls from its affiliates expressing their concern for the safety and lives of women in situations of domestic violence following the Supreme Court Ruling on the unconstitutionality of Interim Barring Orders.

'As a matter of urgency, the NWCI calls on the Minister for Justice, Michael Mc Dowell, to commit resources to implement fully the Domestic Violence Act, 1996, thereby ensuring accountability of perpetrators for their violence, and the adequate protection of victims', declared Gráinne Healy, NWCI Chairperson.

Interim Barring Orders were created to protect women where 'the court is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds for believing that there is an immediate risk of significant harm to the applicant or any dependent person, or the granting of a protection order would not be sufficient to protect the applicant or any dependent person'. Court delays and lack of refuge spaces meant that women and children could be at serious risk while awaiting a full hearing for a Barring Order.

'The Supreme Court ruling creates a vacuum in which women in serious danger have little or no recourse to protection from violence', stated Ms Healy. 'Women currently have to wait 10 to 12 weeks from the time of application to getting a full barring order hearing. We fully support the recommendation of our affiliate organisation, Women's Aid, that a period of no longer than seven days should pass before a full hearing takes place', she added.

'Given the grave danger faced by women right now whose partners are re-entering the home, court personnel and an Gárda Síochána must be given instructions immediately regarding Interim Barring Orders which are already in existence', stated Ms Healy.

'In the light of today's ruling, it is crucial that the Health Boards fulfill their commitment to build more refuge spaces so that women can access refuges when they need it', concluded Ms Healy.