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The new Domestic Violence Bill is as an important step forward

Published: Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today welcomed the new  Domestic Violence Bill as an important step forward in protecting women from male violence. However, there remains significant work to be done to protect women and children in Ireland.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,

“Ending violence against women is critical to achieving equality for women and ensuring women are safe and free to participate fully in society. The new Domestic Violence Bill contains some hugely important measures that bring us closer to this goal, such as creating a new offence of coercive control and recognising that an intimate relationship between a defendant and victim should be seen as an aggravating factor in sentencing. The new Domestic Violence Bill will mean that our criminal law will better reflect the true experience of victims of long-term domestic abuse. Recognising the specific offence of coercive control will improve the ability of women to access justice through effective prosecution of domestic abuse, and also importantly recognises the particularly harmful and complex nature of domestic violence.”

Denise Roche, Legal Policy Officer at NWCI said,

“Domestic violence law influences and reflects society’s expectations about behaviour that is considered unacceptable and how the state and communities should respond. The law also provides victims with legal tools to stop perpetrators being violent, and gives the Gardaí and the Courts the powers and responsibilities to take action to ensure the tools are effective. In that respect, there remains significant work to be done to protect women and children in Ireland."

"Important proposals such as child contact centres could not be progressed in the Domestic Violence Bill, as they require additional resources. The development of a national network of contact centres with support incorporating a domestic abuse risk assessment framework and, as appropriate, safety planning, in order to contribute to meeting the safety and psychological needs of women and children experiencing domestic violence, must be resourced without delay.  Alongside this, we still await a new family court. The personal and vulnerable nature of cases heard in family court requires proper facilities. Finally, to assist in the effective policing and prosecution of domestic violence incidents and send out a clear message of zero tolerance towards violence in the home, there must be training for the Gardai and the judiciary to accompany the new legislation.”

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For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications Officer, 085 8617 087.