Proposed reviews into domestic violence killings to examine if ‘red flags’ were missed

Draft of gender-based violence plan commits to update school curriculum on consent

Reviews are to be carried out into future cases where women are killed by their partners, or in family murder-suicides, to examine if State agencies missed previous red flags, as part of a plan to tackle gender-based violence.

The national strategy for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, to be published next month, will also commit to updating the school curriculum.

This would mean primary and secondary school pupils being taught about consent, domestic violence, coercive control and internet and social media use in an “age appropriate manner”.

A draft of the strategy, seen by The Irish Times, commits to funding extra lighting in public areas and the introduction of “safe spaces” where people can wait for public transport.

The plan supports the introduction of domestic homicide reviews, which would happen in cases where a woman was killed by her partner or ex-partner, or where a family member kills their partner and children.

These would examine if there were any shortcomings in the response of State bodies in an attempt to find possible shortcomings and ensure “all agencies are accountable for the protection of victims”, the draft plan states.

The plan states that a national campaign on sexual consent will be rolled out, as well as one to educate boys and men about how pornography “fuels misogyny and undermines gender equality”.

The draft strategy proposes that more support be provided to victims and survivors as they navigate the courts and criminal justice system and for improvements in the prosecution of those who breach barring orders.

The much anticipated strategy follows public outcry after the killing of teacher Ashling Murphy (23), who was attacked while out running near Tullamore, Co Offaly in January.

The draft was circulated to several civil society organisations for feedback in recent weeks and a finalised strategy is expected to be published by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee in mid-April.

Wide-ranging reviews

A source said the final plan is expected to provide more detail on how the various proposals would be achieved.

The draft plan proposes making workplaces safer "by conducting sectoral workplace audits" across different industries, as well as in the gig economy and cultural spheres. It also commits to setting maximum waiting times for victims of abuse or violence to receive therapy from the Health Service Executive and Tusla, the child and family agency.

Research should be commissioned into the scale of child sexual abuse, as well as the prevalence of child-to-parent violence, and “emerging forms of sexual exploitation”, it states.

Officials will also review how the criminal justice system responds to children who commit sexual crimes, to look at how to reduce future reoffending, the draft document states.

A pilot project in Galway, which brings services for child sexual abuse victims under one roof, such as gardaí, social workers and forensic examiners, will be expanded to open similar facilities in Dublin and Cork, it states.

The strategy proposes more funding for a specialist HSE women’s service so sex workers have access to “safety, health care, support and exit routes”, as well as stating more will be done to “raise awareness of the harm of prostitution”.