Domestic violence and the law

Disclosing a history of abusive behaviour

Sir, – Minister for Justice Helen McEntee’s securing of increased funding to reduce domestic violence will be seen in many quarters as going some way toward reducing the risk of violence within the family household.

While Ireland ranks 93rd in the world regarding domestic and sexual violence, according to the United Nations statistics division, we cannot be lax in our approach toward this hidden form of violence.

One approach to reduce harm to women and children would be that we adopt into law legislation similar to that of “Clare’s Law” in the UK, whereby applicants can, on request, seek information on a partner from the police.

If adopted here gardaí would disclose, on application, to women or partners concerned at the behaviour of their spouse or partner any history of abusive behaviour.

If this were implemented it would help to reduce incidents of domestic or sexual violence.

It is not a panacea but it would give women or partners the confidence to report and to seek information on those they become concerned about.

All too often women who complain of domestic or sexual are afraid to progress their concerns through the court system and may withdraw for a variety of reasons, such as length of investigations, lack of supports, concern for their children, promises made by an abusive partner that they will mend their ways, etc.

By adopting a “Clare’s Law” in this jurisdiction it may go in some way to protect women or partners and give them the tools to make an informed decision. – Yours, etc,

CHRISTY GALLIGAN,

Letterkenny,

Co Donegal.