Brendan Smith stresses need for strong political response to tackle violence against women

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith has called for an immediate and strong political response to the increasing rates of violence against women in the country.

Following a series of questions to the Minister for Justice in the Dáil, Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “There is a groundswell of strong and passionate public opinion calling for an immediate response on this pressing societal.  

“We, as a society, need to be committed to tackling domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV) in all its forms, and to ensuring that people, particularly women and vulnerable people, feel safe and are safe in our communities.”

The Cavan and Monaghan TD continued: “I have asked the Minister when the new strategy on domestic and sexual violence based on the four key principles of prevention, protection, prosecution and policy co-ordination will be finalised and published. The Minister has informed me that she expects to bring the finalised strategy to Government in March, and will then oversee the implementation of the strategy.”

Deputy Brendan Smith added: “I have renewed my appeal to the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Children to progress, without further delay, the provision of a refuge centre in Cavan/Monaghan for victims of domestic abuse.”

In response to Deputy Brendan Smith’s questions, the Minister for Justice listed a number of additional commitments the Government is pursuing to tackle the problem, including: The Department of Justice taking responsibility for services for victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, in addition to policy responsibility; new legislation to strengthen the law in a number of areas – Garda Powers Bill, Digital Recordings Bill and a Bill which will include new criminal offences for stalking and for non-fatal strangulation; and in the Summer a new Hate Crime Bill is expected to be published which will introduce new, specific aggravated offences with enhanced penalties for crimes motivated by prejudice against certain characteristics, including gender.

Before the end of September, it is also expected that a a new Sexual Offences Bill will be published. Additionally, in the coming weeks the signing of an order to bring into operation legislation which provides for pre-trial hearings, which will significantly improve the trial process for victims of sexual offences, is also expected.