June 22, 2021
Domestic violence victims are being failed by the state – Kathleen Funchion TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children, Kathleen Funchion TD, has called for action following the distressing findings contained in this year’s Women’s Aid Annual Report which shows a 43% increase in contacts with Women’s Aid Services last year.

Today’s findings are on foot of reports over the weekend regarding an internal Gardai probe into claims thousands of 999 domestic violence calls from children, migrants and women from the travelling community went unanswered.

Teachta Funchion said:

“The findings in this year’s annual report show the stark reality of how Covid-19 has had an enormous impact on victims of domestic violence. In addition to this, distressing reports have also emerged from an internal Garda probe into cancelled 999 calls that children and women were effectively ignored when seeking help.

“The data contained within this report shows that the issue of domestic violence continues to be a blight on our society. Services working in the area of domestic violence warned that the scale and level of the problem would intensify during consecutive lockdowns and sadly they have been proved right.  

“I am also extremely concerned to learn in recent days that the scale of the cancelled 999 calls probe reveals that women and children at risk who took the brave decision to seek help and call 999 subsequently had their calls cancelled and, it seems, not followed up.

“This is very worrying considering the clear dangers this exposed victims of domestic violence to.

“Ireland also has a long history of letting women and children down within the family law courts system and it is clear that broad reform of access to justice is needed. The system is completely tilted towards a pro-contact model that benefits the perpetrators of domestic violence and does not sufficiently consider the non-abusing parent and or the welfare of the child.

“Unfortunately it also seems that we are letting our most vulnerable women and children down at the very first point of contact to emergency services by not answering their calls, deleting them or simply not following them up. This cannot be allowed to stand.

“I echo the call of my colleague Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Martin Kenny for Commissioner Harris to appear as a matter of urgency before the Oireachtas Committee on Justice to explain why so many 999 calls to command and control centres went unanswered and to outline what actions the force are taking to address this serious issue.”

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