Garda domestic violence programme axed due to lack of funding

Responsibility should be on police to press charges not to ask victim if they want to

A Garda training programme on domestic violence, axed because of lack of funding, must be re-instated, the chairman of the Oireachtas justice committee has warned.

Fine Gael's David Stanton expressed his disappointment at reports that the Garda training college in Templemore, Co Tipperary had stopped the programme, which aimed to create awareness about domestic violence and how to effectively deal with it.

“That should not be the case,” the committee chairman said. “If it is the case, it should be changed.”

Independent Socialist TD Clare Daly highlighted the programme which had been run in Templemore "where gardaí were educated by people who deal with rape victims but it was axed because the funds were not available to operate it".


She said the Garda Inspectorate report confirmed the forces poor handling of domestic violence. “In most of our Garda stations it is not even treated as a crime, although there were some positive exceptions to that,” she said. Gardaí “displayed negative attitudes towards domestic violence, referring to the cause as problematic, time-consuming and a waste of resources.”

Sinn Féin's Sean Crowe said gardaí should follow practice in other countries and press charges against an abuser rather than ask the victim if they wished to press charges and put the onus on them.

They were all speaking during a Dáil debate on the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill introduced by Sinn Féin's Dessie Ellis to deal with what he called an anomaly in existing legislation.

He said victims of domestic violence, who leave a home they co-own with their abuser, were barred from seeking social housing as they were deemed to be appropriately housed.

The Bill recognised the specific circumstances of victims of domestic violence and the difficulties they could face when seeking to leave an abusive home. “The Bill does not dictate that a victim must automatically get a social house, but rather states that a victim shall not be discriminated against based on their part-ownership of the property where the domestic violence occurred,” he said.

But Minister of State Paudie Coffey rejected the Bill and said it failed to take account of recent changes to existing law, where a person who left the family home because of marital breakdown or domestic violence "can access certain forms of social housing support until the future ownership of the family home is determined in a formal separation agreement or divorce settlement".

He said women in such circumstances who did not have access to other accommodation “generally present at local women’s refuges. These refuges offer extensive services to victims of domestic violence, including support in securing barring orders and protection orders to allow the victims to return to the family home.”

But Independent TD Catherine Murphy asked him “what Ireland you are living in? You are certainly not living in my Ireland,” she said, highlighting lack of access in her Kildare constituency to shelter and accommodation for victims of abuse.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times