Support groups call for free counselling for crime victims

New Victims Rights Alliance formed to represent campaign organisations

Joan Deane of Advocates for Victims of Homicide (AdVic) said there was ‘clearly a need to provide counselling services to anyone who has been affected by a traumatic crime’. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Joan Deane of Advocates for Victims of Homicide (AdVic) said there was ‘clearly a need to provide counselling services to anyone who has been affected by a traumatic crime’. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Fri, Nov 15, 2013, 15:30

Victims of traumatic crime should be given free counselling, support groups have said.

The call came in advance of the launch of the Victims Rights Alliance, a coalition of organisations campaigning for the speedy implementation of the EU victims’ rights directive. The directive, which must be transposed into Irish law by November 2015, provides for minimum rights, supports and protections for all victims of crime.

Joan Deane of the organisation Advocates for Victims of Homicide (AdVic) said the only bereavement counselling available to the families of people who die by homicide is a subsidised service run by AdVic itself.

“There is clearly a need to provide counselling services to anyone who has been affected by a traumatic crime,” she said.

The directive states that bereavement counselling should be provided for free, and Ms Deane said the Government should go “above and beyond” its legal requirements by introducing this ahead of the 2015 deadline.

Barrister Maria McDonald said the groups joined forces because of inconsistencies in the way in which they provide information.

“We would hope that Ireland not only meets the standards set out by the EU Directive, but also surpasses them in terms of treating victims with the respect and dignity they deserve,” she said.

“What is of vital importance is that the EU directive is transposed into Irish law. If that doesn’t happen, then arguably very little may change for victims of crime.”

The alliance includes AdVIC, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Irish Road Victims’ Association, Irish Tourist Assistance Service, One in Four, Rape Crisis Network Ireland, Safe Ireland, and Support after Homicide.

The organisations also want an ombudsman’s post to be created to deal with any breach of victim’s rights under the new directive.

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