Ó Snodaigh demands funds for National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency
On day 13 of the 16 International Days of Action Opposing Violence Against Women Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Justice, Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD tabled a priority parliamentary question to challenge the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell and his Minister of State Frank Fahey on their failure to introduce a role for the Probation Service in court hearings on barring orders. Deputy Ó Snodaigh demanded that funding to the National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency pilot scheme in the Dún Laoghaire and Bray District Court areas be guaranteed and extended.
Speaking in the Dáil today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "The National Crime Council, Law Reform Commission and Law Society have all recommended at various stages dating back to 1999 that the Probation Service should have a role in family court - providing reports and advice to the judiciary around barring orders etc. Why has the Minister not made provisions for this to happen?
"The National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency has piloted a positive scheme in the Dún Laoghaire and Bray Court Districts involving a set of work practices that seek to maximise victim safety. And the independent evaluation of the pilot has shown that the crucial supports from the NDVIA have encouraged victims to stick with the legal process.
"The NDVIA monitor and track offender's behaviours and provide risk assessments to the Courts. The work of the NDVIA is absolutely vital, particularly in the absence of this role being undertaken by the Probation Service.
"The NDVIA also engage in bi-lateral work with key agencies such as the Gardaí, the Courts Service, the Probation Service, the HSE and Judiciary through training and promoting standardised recording procedures. The Minister must guarantee future funding to the NDVIA and make provisions for the extension of the intervention model state-wide.
"He must also meet with the NDVIA or at least arrange for the responsible officials in his Department to meet with the agency as soon as possible in order to discuss options for the extension of the pilot scheme and give the agency a definitive answer as to the security of their funding."
Speaking later Deputy Ó Snodaigh expressed his dismay at Minister of State Frank Fahey's refusal to meet the NDVIA. "I am disappointed that the Minister of State not only refused funding but he also refused to even meet with the agency to discuss its future. I am gravely concerned that essential services and expertise will be withdrawn from victims as a result." ENDS