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emCork East Fine Gael TD, David Stanton has highlighted the need for changes to be made in the way we deal with victims of domestic violence. Deputy Stanton’s comments were made during a Dail debate on domestic violence on Friday, 21st November.

“The Oireachtas Justice Committee, of which I am Chairperson, recently produced a comprehensive report on domestic and sexual violence following a series of hearings with interested parties and organisations. It makes a number of recommendations including making domestic violence a crime, creating new offences such as marital assault and domestic assault, improving powers of An Garda Siochana when they witness domestic violence and establishing a domestic violence register for convicted abusers.

“With regard to improving the powers of An Garda Siochana when they witness domestic violence, I believe that An Garda Siochana should be given the power to remove the perpetrator of the violence from the home. I understand from the Justice Committee hearings that this is the case in both New South Wales in Australia and also in New York where since the introduction of this power to the Police the incidence of domestic violence in the city has reduced. I think consideration should be giving An Garda Siochana similar powers here. Emergency Barring Orders would be another means of ensuring victims can remain in their homes. It is appalling that people, mainly women and children but men too, have to leave their own homes because of violence.

“Other areas where supports and assistance could be improved for victims of domestic violence relate to training of those in the public service who come into contact with victims. The Justice Committee has recommended that consideration be given to the establishment of specialised units within An Garda Síochána to deal with domestic violence and many deputies speaking during the Dail debate also mentioned this. I understand from members of An Garda Siochana that domestic and sexual violence cases are difficult to police and investigate and that this work is traumatic for Gardai as it is for medical personnel, legal personnel, and other support services.

“Finally, I also spoke about other emergency help, in addition to emergency barring orders, for victims of domestic violence. If a victim or victims do have to leave their homes to ensure their safety we must ensure that they have access to somewhere safe to go. The availability of housing is a huge issue in East Cork right now but we must ensure that emergency help is available straight away, that local authorities and social services are linked up with immediately to support victims of domestic violence.