Clear need to overhaul justice approach to domestic violence
Labour justice spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has called for a review into Ireland’s legal system following the publication of a report by the National Women’s Council of Ireland on access to justice for victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Deputy Ó Ríordáin said urgent changes are needed within the legal framework to support those who are victims of domestic violence, including assessing access to barring orders.
Calling for a ‘one stop shop’ for information about individual’s legal rights, Deputy Ó Ríordáin said there can be no further delay in addressing a range of other issues in how Ireland supports victims of domestic violence.
Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:
“The report published by the National Women’s Council of Ireland details the systemic challenges victims of domestic violence are faced with when they look for help – through the courts and the legal system and through first responders like the Gardaí and social workers in particular.
“Anecdotally, we often hear of a relaxed approach taken by Gardaí when called out to incidents of domestic and sexual violence. It’s a damning inditement of the frailty of the arms of the State to help those who need it most. The Minister must commit to rolling out refreshed training for all Gardaí to ensure that victims of domestic violence receive the help they need.
“If you are a victim of domestic or sexual based violence, it is a deeply uncertain and unsettling time. Yet this report outlines that are their most vulnerable, people are hit with a quagmire from the legal sector. In the short-term, Minister Harris should examine implementing a ‘one stop shop’ system whereby victims can access information and advice on the best approach to take. The Minister needs to take due regard of the National Women’s Council report and examine, with experts, a more long term solution.
“In addition, Labour is demanding that the Justice Minister commits to opening a refuge space in each and every county to help victims of domestic abuse, and enable them to stay in their community with the support of friends and family. Ireland lags far below the European standard for provision of refuge spaces. We must do more to protect those who need it most at a deeply vulnerable and fraught time. It is imperative that Fine Gael deliver on its promise to provide shelter and support for women fleeing domestic violence.
“Last June, the Justice Minister announced a strategy to transform Ireland’s approach to protecting and supporting victims and survivors of domestic, gender and sexual violence. However, it appears that the party of law and order Fine Gael is all talk and no action when it comes to protecting some of the most vulnerable people in society.”