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Sinn Féin leader calls on Government to act on Women’s Aid recommendations to protect children experiencing domestic violence

10 April, 2019 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has called on the government to advance the family law and court reforms outlined in the Women’s Aid Impact Report published today.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“The Women’s Aid annual impact report provides invaluable data relating to domestic abuse and violence in Ireland today. Of equal importance is the voice it gives to the women affected and their children. This year’s report starkly highlights the failures of the courts to protect children and their mothers from abusers. These failures are a direct contravention on the Istanbul Convention. 

“Significant advances in legislative protections and Garda reforms have been made in recent years. Ireland’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention and enactment of the Domestic Violence Bill were both important human rights landmarks long fought for and hard won.  

“However these advancements are set against successive governments’ failure to provide the legislative framework and necessary supports and services for victims of domestic abuse and violence. Current failures are well documented in the report published today by Women’s Aid. 

“The report tells us that current domestic violence refuge provision is just one third of the emergency accommodation recommended by the Istanbul Convention. Nine counties have no refuge provision at all. Government could have significantly increased investment in refuge provision for 2019. 

“Fifty two per cent of women seeking a refuge place through Women’s Aid helpline and volunteers were refused due to a lack of spaces. 

"Sinn Féin’s Budget 2019 proposals committed to increase funding for domestic violence refuge, step down & support services by €60 million by 2021. These monies would also provide for the play therapy and counselling necessary for children in refuges who have witnessed and experienced abuse.

“Children’s’ voices are not heard in the family court system nor is their safety guaranteed. The report contains a number of important recommendations to address these failures of the justice system.

“Our Justice Spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has raised with the Minister the need to establish child contact centres to facilitate safe supervised access. Calls for the courts to consider the safety and wellbeing of children when granting a barring order and to take interim measures to protect them must be progressed. 

“Women’s Aid has clearly set out the family law and court reforms necessary to protect women and children from the perpetrators’ of domestic abuse. Government must now act.”

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