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Government must drastically improve its approach to combating domestic violence - Mary Lou McDonald TD

14 November, 2016 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has urged the government to drastically improve its approach and work in combating domestic violence.

Deputy McDonald made the comments as the Safe Ireland Summit 2016 is set to take place in Dublin today.

She said;

"It is clear that this government must drastically improve its approach and work in combating domestic violence in this state.

"Over 12,500 women and children have received aid and support from a domestic violence organisation.

"We know from research published by Safe Ireland that 1 in 3 women experience severe psychological violence while 1 in 4 experience sexual or physical violence at the hands of their partner.

"We also know that as many as 4,000 women and children are being accommodated on a yearly basis in emergency refuge accommodation are not being counted and recognised as being homeless.

"The government has been falling far short of the mark in rising to the challenge posed by these startling figures.

"Minister Coveney's Housing Action plan was over 100 pages long but it only contained a short paragraph on domestic violence. The absence of any firm commitment to increase funding for domestic violence refuges, step down accommodation and other support services was extremely worrying.

"According to Women's Aid, Ireland has only 21 Women's refuges. The places available only represent 31% of the places required according to the recommendation from the Council of Europe. The lack of capacity in emergency refuges is a problem created by bad policy and this must improve dramatically

"Sinn Féin is advocating for increased funding for Domestic Violence Refuges by €8m for 2017. It also crucial that legislation is enacted to provide paid leave for victims of domestic violence. Furthermore, we are calling for the publication of new domestic violence legislation and the implementation of the Istanbul Convention.

"It is a fact of life that you cannot hope to adequately deal with challenges posed by domestic violence if the issue is not placed front and centre on the legislative and policy agenda of the state. This must change.

"The government has a responsibility to face up to the scale of the problem and they must do much better."

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