Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Questions (295)

Ruth Coppinger


295. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on a report by an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39973/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I welcome the publication of the report referred to by the Deputy.

Women’s Aid have campaigned tirelessly to highlight the impact of domestic violence and the report referred to provides important first-hand accounts of the abuse suffered by victims of domestic abuse. Understanding the experience of such victims is important to me as Minister and greatly assists in the development of Government policy in this important area. And my Department will study the report carefully in that context.

It is important to note that the Government has already brought forward a range of new laws in recent years in order to help address domestic violence, as part of the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016-2021.

Central to this is the landmark Domestic Violence Act 2018, which came into force on 1 January of this year. Other developments in this area include the enactment of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, which introduced a statutory definition of consent, and the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017, which provides a wide range of measures to protect and inform victims during the progress of their case through the Criminal Justice system.

In addition, on International Women’s Day, I announced Ireland’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention (the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence).

Further, An Garda Síochána is continuously improving its specialist services. Responding to the needs of victims has seen the rolling out by the Garda Commissioner of Divisional Protective Services Units (DPSUs) with specially trained officers responsible for engagement with and interviewing of victims. These Units will support the delivery of a consistent and professional approach to the investigation of sexual and domestic crime.

I note that the report referred to also referred to sentencing in this field. I would point out that the judiciary is independent in matters of sentencing. However the Judicial Council Act 2019 will provide for the development of sentencing guidelines by the judiciary themselves.