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Sinn Féin publish proposals to establish multi-agency domestic homicide reviews

9 May, 2019 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD, Senator Lynn Boylan, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD, Justice Spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, and Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan have today published proposals for the establishment of an independent multi-agency domestic homicide review system in Ireland.

The Sinn Fein policy paper was presented to a roundtable event attended by domestic violence service providers and co-hosted by Kathleen Chada of SAVE, an advocacy group established by families affected by domestic homicide.  SAVE provided the foreword to the policy paper.

Speaking at the event, Kathleen Chada said,

“As families of victims of domestic violence, we are often not looking to apportion blame. We trust the judicial process will take care of that. However, we are often left with questions that cannot be answered by the Gardaí or a coroner. The establishment of an independent multi-agency structure of review following a domestic homicide places the victim at the centre of such a process, at a time when it can often feel that they have been shunted to the side lines.”

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said:

“If Ireland is to uphold and advance the rights contained within the Istanbul Convention, we must ensure the necessary structures are in place to protect women and prevent future violent crimes in the home. Establishing this system of review would fill a significant gap in the states infrastructure to understand and eliminate domestic homicides. It will enable family, friends, and work colleagues to contribute to a process that will improve policy development, operational practice and inter-agency cooperation. In short, it will provide invaluable data on the circumstances leading up to the crime and how agencies can improve responses to better protect women from future attacks.”

Justice Spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said:

“The current Garda led domestic homicide reviews are inadequate and do not deliver on the needs identified by victims’ families and frontline service providers. Specific homicides are identified for review by the Garda Commissioner and the learnings from the process are limited to the Gardaí.

“We want to see system of review that includes all relevant state agencies, domestic violence service providers, families of the victims and their friends and work colleagues underpinned by legislation. As is the case in Britain, independent reviews would be automatically established following a murder and would not be in the gift of any one agency to establish. These reviews are not a replacement for a criminal investigation or an inquest. Instead, they consider the circumstances of the homicide, identify how responses could have been improved and how agencies can better work together into the future to protect potential victims from violent current or former partners.

Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan said:

“Independent multi-agency domestic or familial homicide reviews are already in place in a number of jurisdictions and are due to be introduced in the north of Ireland. There are important lessons we can learn from their experience. Perhaps of most importance, our proposals ensure the victim’s voice is heard and their family’s questions are answered.” 

Note: Please see the policy paper attached

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