Stronger legislation on domestic violence due later in year
Minister examining issue of including protections for women in dating relationships
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald described the Women’s Aid report’s results as “very disturbing”. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw.
Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald hopes to publish stronger legislation to deal with domestic violence this year. She said the Consolidated Domestic Violence Bill is being worked on.
Ms Fitzgerald also said she was examining the possible inclusion in the Bill of protections for women in dating relationships but not living with their partner.
“It raises complex issues, but I will examine it and if at all possible I will include it in the legislation,” she told Fianna Fáil TD Fiona O’Loughlin.
Ms O’Loughlin asked about additional protections and about the Minister’s proposals to deal with domestic violence in the wake of the Women’s Aid report last week which revealed 22,341 reports of abuse against women and children last year.
The Kildare TD said that amounted to 61 incidents a day, and almost one every 20 minutes. “That is just what is being reported,” she said.
Ms Fitzgerald described the report’s results as very disturbing, and said it was very important incidents were reported.
Ms O’Loughlin referred to delays of four months before cases came to a hearing and while waiting “many women must live in the home of the perpetrators with children, stuck in an absolutely impossible position”.
The Minister said she was particularly concerned about conditions at Dolphin House in Dublin which deals with family law cases. Extra staff were to be provided and some cases taken to a different location.
She had arranged a meeting between the Courts Service and Women’s Aid to help accelerate improvements before the developments of a Hammond Lane facility “which will be state-of-the-art in dealing with family law cases”.