Minister For Justice Urged To Criminalise Domestic Abuse

Following the publication of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, Fine Gael TD for Laois/Offaly and committee member, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, has called for the criminalisation of domestic violence.

Deputy Corcoran Kennedy said the "very clear message" the report highlights is that "Irish society will take a zero tolerance approach to domestic violence and sexual assault, and that these offences need to be made crimes, with stiffer punishments."

He added that while researching the report, they discovered that assault is often treated "more seriously" than domestic violence.

"Home is the place where we should feel safest, it is our refuge. We came to the conclusion that due to the psychological and emotional effects of abuse and sexual violence committed in the home, stiffer penalties should be enforced," Deputy Corcoran Kennedy said.

The report lays out four key recommendations:

• The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, to consider creating two additional and more serious offences of marital assault and domestic assault, to be treated and punished more severely.

• That Minister Fitzgerald give further powers to the Gardaí to allow them to take statements regarding a complaint of domestic violence. Their report could include observations of what the Garda at the scene witnessed at the time the complaint was made.

• To legislate for the enhanced criminalisation of psychological abuses such as stalking and harassment within a marital or domestic context. We also felt that psychologically and emotionally damaging acts should be criminalised.

• The provision of a Domestic Violence Unit within the courts was suggested, as was the establishment of a domestic violence register to catalogue details of convicted abusers.

Deputy Corcoran Kennedy concluded: "Domestic violence registers already exist in the UK. They are a safeguard for people who are unsure or uneasy about a partner or the partner of a loved one.

"I believe that we need to do all that we can to prevent, and to combat, domestic and sexual violence. I am calling on Ireland to sign the Istanbul Convention to demonstrate our dedication to this cause.

"It is essential that the Irish Government makes clear that violence of this kind will not be tolerated, and as part of that, I believe that we need to consider regulating pornography that depicts violence and abuse.

"We found throughout our consultation process that violent pornography is often used to stimulate the act of the perpetrator."


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