Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 19 February 2014
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality
Domestic and Sexual Violence: Discussion
I understand this meeting is being broadcast live on television, social media and other media. Its purpose is to have discussions with a number of stakeholders on domestic and sexual violence. Members will recall that the committee invited written submissions on this topic. Each group will be invited to make an opening statement of five minutes, which will be followed by a session of questions and answers. Each member will be allocated a maximum of ten minutes for a question and answer session. I would like each question and answer to be followed by another question and answer, rather than having speeches followed by speeches. I want information exchanged quickly back and forth.
We realise there are serious problems so I ask that we focus on solutions rather than outline a litany of problems, especially during the questions and answers. We must establish where to go to find a solution and what we can do to bring about improvements and address the problems. This approach would be far more beneficial than letting everybody know how awful circumstances are for many because we know that already. In saying this, I do not want to sound glib.
I welcome all the delegates. I apologise for the delay as we had a number of housekeeping matters concerning justice to address. These are quite time consuming and demanding, as one can appreciate. I welcome Ms Fiona Ryan from Sonas Domestic Violence Charity, Ms Sharon O'Halloran from SAFE Ireland, Ms Orla O’Connor from the National Women's Council of Ireland, Ms Fiona Crowley from Amnesty International Ireland, Ms Catherine Joyce from Barnardos, Ms Orla Muldoon from the University of Limerick, Ms Niamh Wilson from the Domestic Violence Advocacy Service, Ms Eibhlin Byrne from the Child and Family Agency, a new agency to which responsibility has been transferred from the HSE’s child and family service, Mr. Brian Killoran from the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Ms Margaret O'Keeffe from MOVE Ireland, Mr. John Doyle from the Men’s Development Network, Ms Margaret Martin from Women’s Aid, and Mr. Don Hennessy, an expert in this area and member of the public.
By virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the joint committee. If they are directed by it to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and they continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against a person or an entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. Members should be aware that under salient rulings of the Chair, they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
I invite Ms Fiona Ryan to make her contribution. She has five minutes.