Adams calls for review of Garda facilities for victims of domestic violence

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams this evening called for a review of facilities at all Garda stations to ensure that victims of domestic violence are interviewed in therapeutic and comfortable surroundings. He cited the experience of the Philips family in 2015 two days before the incident in which Garda Tony Golden was murdered; Siobhán Philips seriously wounded and Crevan Mackin took his own life.

Gerry Adams said:

“The Domestic Violence Bill is an important piece of legislation which is urgently needed. One stark statistic highlights its importance. From 1996 over 200 women have died violently as a consequence of domestic violence. Countless thousands more women and children have been the victim of physical and mental abuse.

Among these victims is Siobhan Phillips, a young woman who was shot and grievously wounded in October 2015 in the same incident which saw Garda Tony Golden murdered and Crevan Mackin take his own life.

Siobhán was the victim of sustained domestic violence. Two days before she and Garda Golden were shot she went with her family to Dundalk Garda station. She had been the victim of two days of a sustained assault by Crevan Mackin. She had been beaten and slashed and was in a distressed physical and emotional state.

According to her family’s account, and despite Siobhán and her father telling the Garda that Mackin had threatened their lives, the Officer refused to take a statement and insisted that Siobhán go to Omeath the next day and speak to Garda Golden.

The family was also deeply upset because their conversation, which was of a very intimate and personal nature, had to take place in the very small public hallway of the Dundalk station in front of other members of the public.

I made numerous representations to the Minister on this and to the last Minister and was advised last December that the policy of An Garda Síochána on Domestic Abuse Intervention had been revised. Minister Flanagan wrote to me to say that An Garda Síochána had established Divisional Protective Services Units in three Garda Divisions, including Louth.

When I subsequently raised this issue with the senior Garda in Dundalk they acknowledged that the station was still inadequate for dealing with this kind of situation. They told me that they had applied for funding to correct this so that Garda could meet victims in a proper, fitting and more therapeutic environment.

The funding was refused they said. I have no doubt about the sincerity of the Minister in respect of this Bill but a genuine commitment to the victims of domestic violence to report their abuse and to seek help it must also ensure that not only is this Bill passed but has the financial supports needed to ensure that it can be implemented effectively.

I would appeal to the Minister to order a review of the existing facilities in Garda stations for the victims of domestic violence to tell their story.

Finally, I want to commend Safe Ireland, Women’s Aid and all of those statutory and voluntary activists who work to provide a safe place and a space for victims of domestic violence and who campaign every day in support of victims of domestic violence. I also want to acknowledge the bravery and strength of those victims who speak out against their abusers.”

New Domestic Violence protocols needed by Gardaí – Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams today raised the issue of Domestic Violence legislation in the Dáil and in particular the case of Siobhan Phillips, a victim of domestic violence who was shot along with Garda Tony Golden in October 2015.

Speaking in the Dáil Teachta Adams said:

“I want to ask the Minister about the Domestic Violence Bill 2017. The purpose of this Bill is to consolidate and update the Domestic Violence Bill 1996 and the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill 2002 into a new comprehensive Bill.

As you may be aware Minister Siobhan Phillips, a young woman who was grievously wounded in the same shooting in which Garda Tony Golden was killed, was the victim of sustained domestic violence.

Two days before she and Garda Golden was shot she went to Dundalk Garda station where despite obvious injuries she wasn’t able to make a statement and there was no private location for her in the station to speak to the Garda about her injuries.

Now the objective of the Domestic Violence Bill is, among other things, to make it easier for victims to avail of the court system and to link them with support.

But there is clearly a need for Garda protocols and facilities based on best international practise to allow victims of domestic abuse to have their complaints dealt with in a therapeutic and appropriate manner.

So when is the does the Minister expect this Bill to complete its legislative journey and when will it be enacted?”

Minister Bruton, standing in for the Taoiseach, said that it was in committee stage in the Seanad.

Commenting later after raising the issue in the Dáil the Sinn Féin leader said:

“It is not acceptable that victims of domestic violence are unable to make complaints to An Garda Síochána in a proper and fitting environment. The trauma of domestic abuse is significant. Women’s Aid reported in 2015 that there were 16,375 incidents of domestic violence in the state. One in three women has experienced psychological abuse by a partner while 15% of women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner.

We need protocols and resources put in place to provide for the victims of abuse to feel safe and confident to tell their stories to a trained Garda officer in a therapeutic setting.” 

 

Government failing to prioritise Domestic Violence legislation – Adams

DSC_3254_6510Speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Féin Louth TD and party leader Gerry Adams praised the Safe Ireland Summit on Domestic Violence and accused the government of not giving this issue the priority it requires.

Teachta Adams asked the Taoiseach when the long overdue Consolidated Domestic Violence Bill and the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime Bill) Bill will be published. In his reply the Taoiseach said that both would be published this session.

The Sinn Féin leader said:

“The government finally signed the Istanbul Convention last November. This Convention is about fostering a culture in which meaningful changes can take place which can help reduce the incidence of domestic violence, better support victims and bring the perpetrators to justice. Violence against women is a serious problem and the Istanbul Convention is an important instrument in tackling that problem.

However, without the Consolidated Domestic Violence Bill and the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime Bill) Bill coming into effect the Istanbul Convention will not be implemented and the protections that victims of domestic violence require will not be available. These Bills need to be given the necessary priority.”

Gerry Adams said:

“I want to commend Safe Ireland for organising the Summit on Domestic Violence. This is a hugely important issue which has not received the priority it requires by this or previous governments. We know from research published by Safe Ireland that 1 in 3 women experience severe psychological violence while 1 in 4 experience sexual or physical violence at the hands of their partner.

Over 12,500 women and children have received aid and support from a domestic violence organisation. And we know that as many as 4,000 women and children are being accommodated on a yearly basis in emergency refuge accommodation and they are not being counted and recognised as being homeless.

The report of the Courts Services also recorded a 35 per cent increase in applications for safety and protection orders over the past five years, with domestic violence in total increasing year on year.

Clearly the government has been failing to meet the challenge posed by domestic violence. Minister Coveney’s Housing Action plan contained only a short paragraph on domestic violence. And the absence of any firm commitment by government to increase funding for domestic violence refuges, step down accommodation and other support services is also extremely worrying. As is the lack of capacity in emergency refuges.”

Additional Notes:

The Women’s Aid’s annual Impact Report was published earlier this year. The statistics make stark reading.

  • 60% of abuse starts before the age of 25.
  • 42% of reported abuse occurred within a marriage.
  • 55% of women murdered in this state (1996-2016) were killed by their partners or ex-partners.
  • 81% of abuse disclosed in 2015 happened in an intimate relationship.
  • 12% of Irish women and girls over the age of 15 have experienced stalking, with 50% being stalked physically and online.
  • There were 1,602 disclosures of financial abuse in 2015.
  • Emotional abuse can include being controlled, manipulated, being isolated from family and friends, name-calling, being blamed for the abuse. Other incidences can include being woken at night causing sleep deprivation or being accused of being a bad parent or partner.
  • Physical abuse can include being beaten, bitten, spat at, thrown, kicked, threatened with a weapon or household item, or being locked in the house or car.
  • Sexual abuse can include being drugged and raped while unconscious, being forced to carry out painful or humiliating sexual acts, or feeling you cannot say no to sex without fear.
  • Financial abuse can include having your salary or welfare payments controlled, being left with debt in your name as the abuser is not paying the mortgage, or bills taken out in their name, being left without resources as the abuser has spent the household income.
  • Of the 5,966 reports of child abuse made to Women’s Aid in 2015, 5,582 were disclosures of emotional abuse and 281 of the disclosures related to physical or sexual abuse by the same person as the mother’s abuser.