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Bacik says creation of domestic violence minister position should be considered

26 June 2020

Statement by Senator Ivana Bacik
Seanad Group Leader and Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Human Rights
Ivana Bacik

Labour Seanad Leader Ivana Bacik has called on parties engaged in Government formation to revisit the question of creating a ministerial role tasked with tackling domestic and gender based violence in Ireland.

Senator Bacik said:

 

“As we enter Phase 3 of the roadmap to ease restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19, it is obvious that the costs of shutting down were greater for some than for others. Calls to An Garda Síochána relating to domestic violence have increased by 25 per cent in 2020 to date. More time spent at home and restrictions on travel and socialising have been challenging and even dangerous for people suffering with an abusive partner or relative.

 

“However, this phenomenon cannot be solely attributed to lockdown. Covid-19 has exposed the frailty in state-infrastructure which aims to prevent and respond to domestic violence. An Garda Síochána has recorded a 25 per cent year-on-year increase in calls for help relating to domestic issues.

 

“We must see urgent action to help those whose situations have been exacerbated throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Much of the approach to tackling domestic violence during this period has been laudable, such as the Garda Operation Faoiseamh. Initiatives such as Safe Ireland’s partnership with AirBnB to provide free temporary accommodation to survivors of domestic abuse are also to be welcomed.

 

“Prior to the negotiation of the programme for government, organisations in the sector have called for a dedicated Minister with responsibility for domestic, sexual and gender based violence. My Dáil colleague, Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality on Wednesday about the prospect of appointing such a minister to direct the Government’s response to domestic abuse.

 

“There has been much speculation about government formation and prospective ministers and junior ministers in recent days and weeks and today in particular. We must seize the opportunity presented by government formation to develop a more targeted approach to addressing gender based violence. I am calling on the Minister for Justice and the parties currently engaged in trying to form a government to continue upholding survivors and victims’ rights and to consider creating a ministerial position to address gender based violence and domestic violence in Ireland.”