Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd has said that a surge in domestic violence and murder during the Covid pandemic is of deep concern and has called for concerted action to tackle the issue.
The Upper Bann MLA said:
“The number of domestic abuse incidents is deeply concerning and protecting victims must be a priority.
“As we enter what should be a happy and joyous time of the year. the harsh reality for many means it will also be a very dangerous time to be at home if you’re suffering domestic abuse.
“Domestic violence and abuse is a major problem across society which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with figures showing police are responding to a domestic incident every 16 minutes.
“This year, the Assembly outlawed all forms of coercive control and non-physical abuse due to come into effect from February 2022.
“This is a hugely positive and practical step forward that will protect victims, and identify and punish abusers earlier.
“Sinn Féin are also working to ensure that the Justice Minister introduces Domestic Abuse Protection Orders and Notices, which could include interventions to make abusers leave the home and place a restraining order on them that prevents them returning.
“The recent surge in domestic violence cases highlights the need for a Violence against Women and Girls Strategy, and I welcome that this work is now well underway in the Executive.
“The majority of victims are women and girls, but men and boys also suffer and everyone has the right to feel safe and must have access to support.
“I would urge anyone that is suffering abuse or feeling unsafe at home to please reach out to the many confidential support services.
“There remains much work to be done and there is an obligation on us all to work collectively to tackle the epidemic of domestic violence in Ireland.”