Varadkar says domestic violence is at ‘epidemic’ levels

‘More women killed by a man they knew than as result of drug- or gang-related feuds last year’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said domestic violence is at “epidemic” levels.

Speaking at his winter briefing with the media, Mr Varadkar expressed concern about domestic violence in Ireland.

“It’s something I’ve an interest in, personally, and that has been a priority of the Government for the last couple of years,” he said.

“I’m conscious that more women last year were killed by a man they know than were killed as a result of drug-related or gang-related feuds.

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“It is that common, domestic violence, and there is an epidemic of it in the world and it needs to be stopped.”

He said the ratification earlier this year of the Istanbul Convention, which obliges governments to tackle violence against women, was a “big step forward”.

Mr Varadkar said his Government had strengthened the laws around consent and also introduced a new offence around coercive control.

“We’ve given additional support to the Garda and gardaí are now setting up the equivalent of special victims’ units in every division, which I think is long overdue, and provided a €5 million increase in funding for domestic violence services,” he said.

“As well as that, we’ve commissioned a new academic study on the scale and extent of domestic violence in Ireland.

“People say, ‘Why are you spending money on studies and research?’ It actually is important because, if you want to deal with a problem, you need to understand it.”

He said the new study would be a “follow-up” to the Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (SAVI) study.

“What we’ll do in the year to come will be built on that but one of the things we’ll particularly do is invest in more refugees for women who’ve experienced violence. I’ll be visiting one next week, in fact.

“We should have Rathmines [in Dublin] reopened quite soon and you’ll have Rathcoole as well and also one in Galway.

“There are different measures as to how many places you should have for the size of your population but we will meet one of those measures next year and we won’t be far off the second measure.” - PA