Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe, has called on the government to advance the family law and court reforms outlined in the Women’s Aid 2018 Impact Report.

The report says there were 19,089 contacts with Women’s Aid direct services last year. 16,994 of these contacts were disclosures of domestic violence against women and there were an additional 3,728 disclosures of child abuse made.  The report outlines that one in four women who contacted Women’s Aid were experiencing abuse from a former husband or partner.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“This Women’s Aid Impact Report provides an uncomfortable insight into domestic abuse and violence in the Ireland today. It is absolutely heart-breaking to hear that so many women are living in constant fear of an assault on their children or themselves.

“Of equal importance is the voice it gives to the thousands of women and their children that are directly impacted.

“The report highlights the ongoing failure of the courts and the legal system to protect vulnerable children and their mothers from abusers. This is heightened when women have nowhere safe to go with their children from the person perpetrating the domestic violence.

“Significant advances in legislative protections and Garda reforms have been made in recent years but as the report outlines clearly that much more needs to done. Ireland’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention and enactment of the Domestic Violence Bill were both important human rights landmarks long fought for and hard won.

“However these advancements at an International level are set against successive governments’ failure to provide the necessary legislative framework combined with supports and services for victims of domestic abuse and violence.”

Crowe continued:

“The report informs us that the current provision of domestic violence refuges is just one third of the emergency accommodation recommended by the Istanbul Convention. Incredibly, nine counties in Ireland have no refuge provision at all. 52% of women seeking a refuge place through the Women’s Aid helpline and through volunteers were refused due to a lack of spaces.

“We know that children’s voices are not being heard in the family court system and their safety is not being guaranteed. The report contains a number of important recommendations to address these failures of the justice system.

“It calls for the courts to consider the safety and well-being of children when granting a barring order and to take interim measures to protect them. This must be progressed with urgency.

“Women’s Aid has clearly set out the family law and court reforms that are necessary to protect women and children from perpetrators’ of domestic abuse. The next logical step would be for the government to now act urgently on these important recommendations.”