Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 19 February 2014
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality
Domestic and Sexual Violence: Discussion
We must empower the garda to take statements and give his or her version of what he or she has witnessed, photograph the scene of the crime and, if the victims are willing, they should be photographed at that stage and doctor called immediately. That is when the bar is set. It should not be a case of having to consider where the woman and her children will be housed; the criminal is the person who should be removed from the house. That would a solve the housing problems. If the perpetrators of these crimes knew there would be a criminal charge on foot of their actions, we might eliminate between 50% to 60% before they start. A major issue for local authorities is that a couple may be the joint owners of the family home and one cannot go on a housing list if one owns a house. This is a major challenge. We should focus on those who respond to the call for help. It should be a criminal offence and I hope this will happen in my lifetime. As I said, I had not intended to make a public statement on what needed to be done - I do not know what my brothers and sisters will think of these revelations - but I believe we need to deal with the criminal act. First, let us try to deal with the assault and the criminal act and then we could try to deal with some of the other issues.
I am a peace commissioner and gardaí come to my house a 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. If they were to come to my house, having witnessed a crime, to ask me to sign an order, I do not see any reason a peace commissioner or a commissioner for oaths could not do this. I do not see any reason community courts could not deal with such cases. We could look at providing such a role for them. It would be a good idea to look at that suggestion. A peace commissioner or a commissioner for oaths could certainly sign the order and there should be no need to look for a judge. Members of the Garda Síochána witness this on the front line. Unlike what is happening elsewhere, I trust 99.99% of gardaí implicitly and know they would not come to me unless a case warranted it. That is what we need to do. I will engage with the committee rapporteurs, Deputies Marcella Corcoran Kennedy and Anne Ferris. My belief is we should deal with the criminal acts first and then take it from there.