January 16, 2021
Pharmacy code word scheme for domestic violence an important opportunity to support victims – Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile

Sinn Féin group leader in the Seanad, Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile, has written to the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Health to urge them to consider proposals for a pharmacy code word scheme to support victims of domestic abuse.

Senator Ó Donnghaile said:

“Pharmacies in the north and in Britain, including the Boots chain, have begun a scheme which allows victims of domestic violence to use the code word ‘ANI’ in order to alert staff to the fact they are experiencing abuse.

“The code stands for ‘Action Needed Immediately’ and informs staff that a customer needs urgent help. This enables them to be taken by a trained member of staff to a discreet place where they can discuss their needs and be supported in making a call to emergency services.

“I welcome this scheme. Sadly, we know that domestic violence is all too common across Ireland; many victims feel trapped in abusive environments and feel unable to seek help.

“I am aware that this has been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, as many victims are unable to take time away from an abuser if they are in the same household. This scheme has the potential therefore, to be a vital lifeline for victims in a crisis.

“I have written to the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Health to inform them of the scheme and outline my support for it. I have asked the Ministers if they will engage with management of Boots in the 26 Counties to discuss whether they can offer a similar scheme to that which they have introduced in the north.

“I am aware that over eighty ‘Totalhealth’ outlets in the south already offer a similar service and believe it is important that this opportunity is maximised in order to increase support available to victims of this crime.

“I look forward to the Ministers’ response and to engaging with them on this issue.”

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