Gardaí responded to almost 50,000 domestic violence incidents in 2021, a 10% hike compared to a year earlier. These latest statistics were released under Operation Faoiseamh, which was set up in April 2020 to tackle domestic abuse. The surge in cases will increase pressure on the Government to ensure there are proper facilities for domestic violence victims. There are nine counties that still do not have refuges for women and children.
The number of breaches of court protection orders in domestic abuse cases reported to gardaí also increased by more than 60% during the Covid-19 pandemic, when compared with 2018 and 2019. Court protection orders are designed to protect victims of domestic abuse from their abusers.
In response to these increases, the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, announced over Christmas that ‘Still Here’, the national awareness campaign on domestic abuse, would be relaunched. The ‘Still Here’ campaign was developed in April 2020 in response to the restrictions on movement imposed by the pandemic. It informs and reassures people that supports and services continue to be available to those at risk or experiencing domestic abuse and sexual violence.
The CEO of Women’s Aid, Sarah Benson said that Covid-19 restrictions exacerbated the circumstances for people who were already in coercive, controlling and abusive relationships. She said that the courts were forced to slow down, which led to a surge in demand for emotional support and practical information from organisations like Women’s Aid.
The Courts Service will continue to prioritise domestic abuse cases, including access for anyone requiring emergency orders. Anyone seeking information is advised to contact their local court office for more information or visit www.courts.ie/domestic-abuse for contact details and information about various applications that victims of domestic abuse can apply for.
The Legal Aid Board also continues to prioritise domestic abuse cases. Anyone in need of legal advice service should contact their local centre, with more information on www.legalaidboard.ie.
Detective Chief Superintendent Colm Noonan of the Garda National Protective Services Unit said there has been a rise in prosecutions in 2021, which shows gardaí have the capacity and resolve to fully investigate domestic abuse offences and to prosecute offenders. He also said that divisional protective services units (DPSUs) are in every Garda division, supported by divisional victim service offices and frontline gardaí.
NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff LLP, whose numbers can be found on our website www.nfg.ie, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.