Home > Dail Eireann debate. Domestic Violence Bill 2017 [Seanad]: Report and Final Stages (continued).

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Domestic Violence Bill 2017 [Seanad]: Report and Final Stages (continued). (25 Apr 2018)

External website: http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/Debates%20A...

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I thank the Members for the debate on this important legislation thus far. They will recall our earlier debate when I stated that a number of amendments would be introduced by me and the subject of deliberation on Report Stage. I am pleased to put four amendments before the House this evening. Amendment No. 1 is a technical amendment arising out of Committee Stage proceedings when a definition of "civil proceedings" was inserted in the Bill at section 2 along the lines of the definition in the Domestic Violence Act 1996. The effect of amendment No. 1 will be to ensure that the transitional provision in section 42 will apply to all civil proceedings under the 1996 Act which have been commenced but not yet determined when Part 2 of the Bill, which deals with court proceedings, comes into operation. This will ensure there is no uncertainty in relation to the continuity of applications for the variation or discharge of orders under the 1996 Act or with regard to any appeals which may be applicable to orders under the 1996 Act and under way on the commencement of Part 2……..


Deputy Jim O'Callaghan: I welcome the passage of this legislation through both Houses of the Oireachtas. The Minister is correct in stating that it is significant legislation. We need to recall that it is 22 years since the first domestic violence legislation was introduced back in 1996. We had amending legislation subsequently in 2002. It is important that the Oireachtas updates legislation in respect of this area and ensures that domestic violence is recognised as being unacceptable in our society.


Now that the legislation has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, it is my hope that it will be signed promptly by the President. After that, it is a matter for the Minister for Justice and Equality to determine when particular sections should be commenced. I hope the commencement orders will be made promptly. It is important the legislation is put into force and into use as quickly as possible.


The Minister indicated that the legislation is there for the protection of all persons involved in domestic arrangements. However, it must be recognised that, regrettably, in our society domestic violence is predominantly perpetrated against women. There is also violence outside domestic arrangements and against women which is equally unacceptable. We need to recognise that there is a problem not just in Irish society - sometimes we think problems are exclusive to this country - but also internationally in the context of violence by men against women. It is a problem that goes much further in terms of trying to resolve it than with legislation. It is important on occasions such as this to record the fact that there is significant statistical evidence of the violence by men against women in domestic arrangements.


In 2016, there were approximately 3,500 incidents of physical abuse against women in the domestic environment. In a European Union study carried out in 2014, it was reported that 14% of women in Ireland have experienced physical violence by a partner since they attained the age of 15. Up to 6% of Irish women have experienced sexual violence by a current or former partner while 31% of women have experienced psychological violence by a partner. We do not have to rely upon European studies to identify the fact that Irish women are subjected to domestic violence. The National Crime Council conducted research which found that one in seven women has experienced severe abusive behaviour of a physical, sexual or emotional nature from a partner at some point.


In a report conducted by the European Union on the campaign against domestic violence, it was noted 25% of all violent crimes reported involved a man assaulting his wife or partner. This is a problem that society needs to address. In fairness to politicians, we cannot resolve it exclusively on our own. However, it must be recognised that legislation is part of the solution. It is important to note that in Ireland since 1996, when the first domestic violence legislation was introduced, 216 women have died violently. Up to 63% of those 216 women were killed in their own homes. In the resolved cases where there was a determination of culpability, 56% of women were murdered by a partner or an ex-partner. Another 32% of women were killed by someone they knew. It is instructive to note that of those 216 women who were killed in Ireland over the past 22 years, 40 of them were aged between 18 and 25 years of age. Recently in my constituency, a woman, Joanne Lee, was brutally murdered as a result of domestic involvement. That was a tragic case which also revealed not only the violence that is sometimes perpetrated by men and women but also the association between such violence and alcohol and drugs…….


[To read the full debate, click on the link above]

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