News & Media

Action needed on Domestic Violence

1 April 2020

Statement by Sean Sherlock TD
Spokesperson on Justice, Children and Youth Affairs

Labour Justice spokesperson Seán Sherlock has welcomed Operation Faoisimh but said additional supports to tackle domestic violence will be needed as the Covid-19 lockdown continues.

Minister should remind Gardaí of powers to seek emergency barring orders

Deputy Sherlock said:

“With people confined to home there will be an increase in domestic violence and I am conscious that many partners will not be able to access the support and help they previously had before the Covid-19 guidance to stay at home.

“I welcome the work by An Garda Síochána through Operation Faoisimh to support and protect victims of domestic abuse in response to Covid-19.

“I have been inundated with requests for Gardaí to be given emergency powers to make barring orders. This would require extensive legislation as without a barring order made by a court, the Gardaí do not have power to remove domestic abusers from their own homes – unless they have evidence to arrest and charge them.
 
“However, under the Domestic Violence Act 2018 a court can make an ‘emergency’ barring order on an ex parte basis (having heard the applicant only),
- The court can sit in private and informally,
- A sergeant or higher may request the Courts Service to arrange a special sitting of the District Court in order to hear an application for an emergency barring order (section 24), and,
- Evidence can be given by live TV link.

“I would call on the Minister for Justice to ensure frontline Gardaí are advised of the powers and the process available to them to secure emergency barring orders from the courts when needed. And also to ensure that the technology to facilitate live TV links is available.”