Seanad debates

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Commencement Matters

Domestic Violence Policy

10:30 am

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank Senator Conway and Senator McFadden for raising this matter. I assure all the Senators in the House of my commitment as Minister for Justice and Equality, and that of Government, to do everything we can to tackle violence against women. This violence is a blight on our society and its complexity requires a systemic, multifaceted response.

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, commonly known as the Istanbul Convention, is a significant legal instrument in combating sexual and domestic violence and the programme for Government is committed to its implementation. The convention is a broad-based document which covers a number of Departments’ policy areas. The purposes of this convention are to protect women against all forms of violence and to prevent, prosecute and eliminate violence against women and domestic violence. The convention also aims to ensure the design of a comprehensive framework, policies and measures for the protection of and assistance to all victims of such violence.

Senators will be aware that Ireland signed the Istanbul Convention in November 2015. At the time, the Government gave approval to an action plan which contained those outstanding actions that were identified as being necessary to enable Ireland’s ratification of the convention.Those 18 actions were included in the second national strategy for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence which was published in January 2016. The implementation of this whole-of-government strategy which contains a range of actions to be implemented across Departments and agencies is ongoing. I acknowledge the work of the Minister of State at my Department, Deputy Stanton, in particular, in that regard. I also acknowledge the contributions of Members of this and the Lower House, particularly those of Senators McFadden and Conway.

Progress in implementing the actions required to be taken under the Istanbul Convention includes the training of public sector officials, implementation of the victims directive, development and implementation of a risk assessment matrix by An Garda Síochána for victims of domestic violence and sexual crime. I acknowledge and welcome what Senator Conway said as far as An Garda Síochána is concerned, but, of course, there is more to be done. Enactment of the Domestic Violence Bill 2018 in May significantly advanced progress in ratifying the convention. This groundbreaking legislation delivers on a number of Istanbul Convention actions, including emergency barring orders, extending access to interim barring orders and creating an offence of forced marriage. It is my intention to commence the Act in January. The agencies that are key to implementing the legislation are working to that end.

There remains one outstanding legislative action before Ireland can ratify the Istanbul Convention, that is, legislating for extraterritorial jurisdiction. This technical legislation will provide for individuals who commit particular offences abroad being liable to prosecution under Irish law. It is my intention to publish the legislation in the very near future. Its early enactment will enable ratification of the convention. It is my intention to ratify the convention early in 2019 and have the legislation enacted prior to that.


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