Domestic Violence Bill Progresses

The Domestic Violence Bill through the Justice Committee this week, having already passed through the Seanad last November. The Bill will now go on to Report and Final Stages in the Dáil.

Although the progress of this bill has been painfully slow, we can now see the end in sight. We must push forward to get it over the line. Having worked with Safe Ireland, other front line services and women who have experienced domestic violence, I know this Bill will make a significant positive difference in keeping women safe.”

I very much welcome the introduction of Clare’s Law in the North and am of the firm opinion that it should be extended to the whole of Ireland. It allows women to ask the police if their partner has a history of violence against women.

It arose from a case in England where a woman, Clare Wood, was murdered by her former partner. She was unaware of his previous history of violence against women.

Under this system if a woman fears for her safety due to her partner’s behaviour she can ask the police as to his history.

The most innovative aspect of this is that the application can be made online. This means that a vulnerable woman does not have to make the physical journey to a police station.

The PSNI then have a duty to inform the woman of any knowledge they have of behaviour which could pose a risk. They aim to have this information within 40 days but this can be sped up if there is a serious risk present.

Another innovative aspect is that concerned family members and friends can also ask for this information. It is all about giving women the information to make decisions about their own relationships.

I will be discussing Clare’s Law with my Sinn Féin colleagues and others in the North to initiate its introduction across the Island.