Today, Women’s Aid, the national organisation supporting women and their children experiencing domestic violence, responds to the appearance of Lois West and Laura Gilligan from the An Garda Síochana Analysis Unit in front of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality.
Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid says:
“We are deeply concerned to hear the issues raised today by members of the Garda Analysis Unit at the joint Oireachtas Committee Justice and Equality. First of all, we would like to thank both Laura Galligan and Lois West for bringing to light the issues they have uncovered during the review of homicide cases and for their initiative and perseverance over what sounds like a very difficult and challenging 15 months. There is huge value in the work that they are doing.”
Ms Martin continues:
“The review of homicide cases are a direct result of the findings of the Women’s Aid Femicide Watch and a joint initiative by Women’s Aid and the National Women’s Council of Ireland to raise this issue with then Tanáiste Frances Fitzgerald, T.D in September 2016. At that time we requested a thorough investigation by An Garda Síochána into domestic homicides over a specified time period which was badly needed. We hoped that any such review would bring a greater understanding of the patterns of this type of crime and the potential to identify risks and early intervention.”
Women’s Aid is concerned that this process which was announced in November 2016 has taken so long and believe that delays are preventing the development of a best practice response in relation to domestic violence including risk assessment and risk management.
Ms Martin explains:
“We know through our work supporting women on the 24hr National Freephone Helpline and our face to face services, that the repeat and escalating nature of domestic violence poses a particular risk to the physical and mental well-being of women and children and without well informed and systematic practice that there is an absence of effective protection for victims of this crime.”
Ms Martin adds:
“Ms West and Ms Galligan understand this issue and we agree with them when they say that the better data and systems that support better analysis of domestic homicide and domestic violence will lead to An Garda Síochana allocating resources where they are most needed which will help the responding Garda on the ground do their jobs.”
In the Second Strategy on Gender Based, Domestic and Sexual Violence launched in January 2016, there was a government commitment to roll out Divisional Protective Services Unit as a way to provide a high standard response to victims of domestic violence, carry out good risk assessment and management, identify victims who are at high risk and perpetrators of abuse. To date, this has only happened in three locations. This needs to be extended as promised as a matter of urgency.
Ms Martin concludes:
“What we have heard today is very troubling. The women we support are often aware that their abuser has started a new relationship and are concerned about the safety of other women. They know the risk. They know the fear but feel helpless. Domestic Violence perpetrators are dangerous and they rarely stop. We need to see the organisations tasked with protecting victims of domestic violence and preventing future victims take this issue as seriously and as urgently as it deserves.”
Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 www.WomensAid.ie
For more information please contact Christina Sherlock on 0879192457 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes for editors and producers:
Key statistics from the Women’s Aid Femicide Report 2017 (November 2017):