26/04/2018

Sinn Féin Calls For Review Of Garda Facilities For Domestic Abuse Victims

Sinn Féin has called for a review of facilities at all Garda stations to ensure that victims of domestic violence are interviewed in therapeutic and comfortable surroundings.

Making the call, Louth TD Gerry Adams, cited the experience of the Philips family in 2015 two days before the incident in which Garda Tony Golden was murdered, Siobhán Philips seriously wounded and Crevan Mackin took his own life.

Mr Adams said: "The Domestic Violence Bill is an important piece of legislation which is urgently needed. One stark statistic highlights its importance.

"From 1996 over 200 women have died violently as a consequence of domestic violence. Countless thousands more women and children have been the victim of physical and mental abuse.

"Among these victims is Siobhan Phillips, a young woman who was shot and grievously wounded in October 2015 in the same incident which saw Garda Tony Golden murdered and Crevan Mackin take his own life.

"Siobhán was the victim of sustained domestic violence. Two days before she and Garda Golden were shot she went with her family to Dundalk Garda station, she had been the victim of two days of a sustained assault by Crevan Mackin.

"She had been beaten and slashed and was in a distressed physical and emotional state.

"According to her family's account, and despite Siobhán and her father telling the Garda that Mackin had threatened their lives, the Officer refused to take a statement and insisted that Siobhán go to Omeath the next day and speak to Garda Golden.

"The family was also deeply upset because their conversation, which was of a very intimate and personal nature, had to take place in the very small public hallway of the Dundalk station in front of other members of the public.

"I made numerous representations to the Minister on this and to the last Minister and was advised last December that the policy of An Garda Síochána on Domestic Abuse Intervention had been revised.

"Minister Flanagan wrote to me to say that An Garda Síochána had established Divisional Protective Services Units in three Garda Divisions, including Louth.

"When I subsequently raised this issue with the senior Garda in Dundalk they acknowledged that the station was still inadequate for dealing with this kind of situation.

"They told me that they had applied for funding to correct this so that Garda could meet victims in a proper, fitting and more therapeutic environment.

"The funding was refused they said. I have no doubt about the sincerity of the Minister in respect of this Bill bit a genuine commitment to the victims of domestic violence to report their abuse and to seek help it must also ensure that not only is this Bill passed but has the financial supports needed to ensure that it can be implemented effectively.

"I would appeal to the Minister to order a review of the existing facilities in Garda stations for the victims of domestic violence to tell their story.

"Finally, I want to commend Safe Ireland, Women's Aid and all of those statutory and voluntary activists who work to provide a safe place and a space for victims of domestic violence and who campaign every day in support of victims of domestic violence.

I also want to acknowledge the bravery and strength of those victims who speak out against their abusers."

(MH)

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