Tuesday, 21 May 2019
Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill 2019: Second Stage [Private Members]
I did not realise I had been speaking for so long. Deputy O'Loughlin will address other aspects of the legislation.
I welcome the announcement on 14 May by the Minister, Deputy Flanagan, that he would set up an independent specialist in-depth research study on homicides within families and domestic homicide reviews which will be chaired by Ms Norah Gibbons who is very well qualified in this area. It is important that research is carried out in respect of this matter. Obviously, the Bill was introduced on First Stage before the Minister made the announcement. I recognise that it would be illogical for the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality to deal with legislation such as this at pre-legislative scrutiny stage in parallel with Ms Gibbons carrying out the study. My concern is that the Minister indicated that the report must be produced within a year, although I am conscious that it may take longer. I wish to ensure the Bill does not drift into the great morass of issues which are under review. For that reason, I am concerned about the Minister's amendment which seeks to adjourn the Bill for 12 months. I am not proprietorial about this issue - we need to ensure we get it right - but I would like greater urgency given to be given the legislation. Perhaps the review could be completed by the end of the year. It is important that we work in harmony on this. It is above party politics. We must ensure that we do what is right for the people and, in particular, the very brave families who have suffered from these terrible crimes. I would like legislation to be considered and possibly recommended by Ms Gibbons' review group.
I note there are concerns about the legislation in the UK, but it is very important that we do not just get reports but rather get legislation in place such that in future families will not have to go through the trauma suffered by Clodagh Hawe's family in being obliged to go to the national broadcaster and give a very powerful interview in order to catalyse Members of this House into action.