· “It is not acceptable that anyone in 21st century Ireland is subjected to abuse, fear and intimidation.” Tánaiste. 

· The new Domestic Violence Bill will improve the protections available to victims of domestic violence.  

· Reforms will bring Ireland a step closer to ratifying the Istanbul Convention.  

 

3 February 2017 

The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, has today published the Domestic Violence Bill 2017. 

The Tánaiste said: “Tackling domestic violence has been a priority for me throughout my career. It is not acceptable that anyone in Ireland is subjected to abuse, fear and intimidation. Domestic violence is a pernicious evil that has devastating physical, emotional and financial consequences for victims as well as society as a whole.” 

“The Bill will particularly improve the protections available to victims of domestic violence, most critically for cohabitants and parents in crisis situations, by introducing a new emergency barring order which can last for up to 8 working days.” 

“I also intend to bring forward amendments to the Bill at Committee Stage to extend access to safety and protection orders to those in intimate and committed relationships, who are not cohabiting.” 

“The Bill also aims to make the court process easier for victims of domestic violence. A victim will have the right to be accompanied to court by a family member, friend or support worker. A victim will be able to give evidence by live television link. There will be restrictions on attendance at both civil and criminal court proceedings and protections for the victim’s anonymity.”  

The enactment of the Domestic Violence Bill will be a major step towards Ireland’s ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, more commonly known as the Istanbul Convention. 

The main improvements to the law contained in the Domestic Violence Bill are as follows: 

· Victims of domestic violence who are cohabiting with or are parents of the perpetrator will be able to apply for an emergency barring order lasting for 8 working days. A person who applies for an emergency barring order will not have to have a greater or equal property interest in the relevant property. 

· It will be possible for a court, when making a safety order or barring order, to prohibit a perpetrator of domestic violence from communicating with the victim electronically. 

· A victim will have the possibility of being accompanied to court by a person of his or her choice to provide support during the hearing.  

· It will be possible for victims to give evidence by live television link so as to avoid the risk of intimidation by the perpetrator or an associate both in civil cases and in criminal cases for breaches of orders. 

· The courts will have the possibility of recommending that a perpetrator engages with services such as programmes aimed at perpetrators of domestic violence, addiction or counselling services.  

· The Courts Service will be required to provide information to victims of domestic violence about support services. 

· Children will have the opportunity to make their views known to the court where an order is sought on behalf of a child or relates in part to a child. The court will have the option of appointing an expert to assist the court to ascertain the views of the child. 

· There will be restrictions on the categories of person allowed to be in the courtroom during civil and criminal proceedings relating to domestic violence orders. 

· The anonymity of the victim, dependants and the perpetrator will be protected in criminal proceedings for breaches of orders, other than where the victim requests otherwise and the court so permits. However, the media will be able to report on these proceedings, provided that they respect the obligations concerning anonymity. 

· The Bill will provide for a new criminal offence of forced marriage. 

· The exemptions which enable persons under the age of 18 to marry will be repealed.  

· Existing provisions on domestic violence will be brought together in one piece of legislation to make the legislation easier to use. 

The enactment of the Domestic Violence Bill is a key part of the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016-2021. As part of this strategy, the Tánaiste recently launched a new national awareness campaign “What would you do?”. This campaign aims to bring about a change in long-established societal behaviours and attitudes to domestic and sexual violence and to activate bystanders with the aim of decreasing and preventing this violence.  

The Tánaiste concluded: “This Bill will help in tackling the horror of domestic violence and I intend that it will be enacted as early as possible.” 

The Domestic Violence Bill is available here http://bit.ly/2jEPhxO

ENDS.../ 

 

Note for Editors:  

The Programme for a Partnership Government includes a commitment to implement in full the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention) and the commitments contained in the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. 

The Domestic Violence Bill 2017 updates and consolidates the existing law in relation to domestic violence by integrating the changes to the Domestic Violence Act 1996 resulting from subsequent legislation. These include the changes made in the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act 2002, the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011, the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 and the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015. 

Consolidating the legislation on domestic violence will enable the general public to be aware of the increased protections that are available in legislation amending the 1996 Act and to make the legislation easier to use. The Bill also incorporates new legislative provisions which are necessary to enable Ireland to ratify the Istanbul Convention.  

Information on the orders available under the Bill 

Safety Order 

 

Who can apply for a safety order? 

A spouse, a civil partner, an unrelated person who lived with the respondent in an intimate and committed relationship prior to the application for the order, a parent of an adult respondent, an adult person who lives with the respondent in a relationship the basis of which is not primarily contractual, or a parent of a child whose other parent is the respondent. 

 

What does a safety order prohibit a respondent from doing? 

Using or threatening to use violence against, molesting or putting in fear, the applicant or a dependent person; watching or besetting a place where the applicant or a dependent person resides; following or communicating (including by electronic means) with the applicant or a dependent person. 

How long can a safety order last?  

A safety order can last for up to 5 years. A further safety order can be made for an additional period of up to 5 years. 

 

 

Barring Order  

 

Who can apply for a barring order? 

A spouse of the respondent, a civil partner, an unrelated person who lived with the respondent in an intimate and committed relationship prior to the application for the barring order, or a parent of an adult respondent. 

 

What does a barring order prohibit a respondent from doing? 

Failing to leave the property, entering the property, using or threatening to use violence against, molesting or putting in fear, the applicant or a dependent person; attending at or in the vicinity of, or watching or besetting, a place where the applicant or a dependent person resides; following or communicating (including by electronic means) with the applicant or a dependent person. 

 

How long can a barring order last?  

A barring order can last for up to 3 years. A further barring order can be made for an additional period of up to 3 years. 

 

Interim Barring Order  

 

Who can apply for an interim barring order? 

Any person who is eligible to apply for a barring order.  

 

When is an application for an interim barring order made? 

The application for an interim barring order is made during the period after an application for a barring order has been made and before the application for the barring order has been determined. An interim barring order will only be made if the court is satisfied that there is an immediate risk of significant harm to the applicant or a dependent person and the making of a protection order would not be sufficient to protect the applicant or a dependent person.  

 

Does the applicant for an interim barring order need a legal or beneficial interest in the property?  

If the applicant is not a spouse or civil partner then they must have an equal or greater beneficial interest in the property than the respondent. 

 

What does an interim barring order prohibit a respondent from doing? 

Failing to leave the property, entering the property, using or threatening to use violence against, molesting or putting in fear, the applicant or a dependent person; attending at or in the vicinity of, or watching or besetting, a place where the applicant or a dependent person resides; following or communicating (including by electronic means) with the applicant or a dependent person. 

 

How long can an interim barring order last?  

If an interim barring order is made ex parte it may only last for a period not exceeding 8 working days unless it is subsequently confirmed as an interim barring order. An interim barring order will last until the court has determined the application for the barring order.  

 

Emergency Barring Order 

 

Who can apply for an emergency barring order? 

An unrelated person who lived with the respondent in an intimate and committed relationship prior to the application for the order, or a parent of an adult respondent. 

 

Does the applicant for an emergency barring order need a legal or beneficial interest in the property?  

The applicant can apply even if they have a lesser legal or beneficial interest in the property than the respondent, or if they have no legal or beneficial interest in the property at all.  

 

What does an emergency barring order prohibit a respondent from doing? 

Failing to leave the property, entering the property, using or threatening to use violence against, molesting or putting in fear, the applicant or a dependent person; attending at or in the vicinity of, or watching or besetting a place where the applicant or a dependent person resides; following or communicating (including by electronic means) with the applicant or a dependent person. 

How long can an emergency barring order last?  

An emergency barring may only last for up to 8 working days. Once the period granted in the emergency barring order has expired, no further emergency barring order may be made until a period of one month has elapsed from the date of expiry of the previous emergency barring order, unless the court is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances to do so. 

 

Protection Order 

 

Who can apply for a protection order? 

Anyone who is eligible to apply for a safety order or barring order.  

 

What does a protection order prohibit a respondent from doing? 

Using or threatening to use violence against, molesting or putting in fear, the applicant or a dependent person; watching or besetting a place where the applicant or a dependent person resides; following or communicating (including by electronic means) with the applicant or a dependent person. 

How long can a protection order last?  

In the period after an application for a safety order or barring order has been made and before the application for the safety order or barring order has been determined.  

 

#whatwouldyoudo 

The Tánaiste recently launched the national awareness campaign “What would you do?” which is a part of the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016-2021.  

The Tánaiste secured funding of €950,000 for 2016 for the new national awareness campaign. In addition, funding of €200,000 has been awarded under the Dormant Accounts Fund to localise the campaign in 2016 and 2017.  

The aim of the campaign is to increase the awareness of domestic and sexual violence, to bring about a change in long-established societal behaviours and attitudes and to activate bystanders with the aim of decreasing and preventing this violence. It recognises that women and men are victims of such crimes. The campaign was sought by and is supported by NGO stakeholders.  

 

“What would you do?” will feature TV, cinema, radio, outdoor, social and digital advertising. The call to action directs people to search the campaign website www.whatwouldyoudo.ie for information and advice on domestic violence.  

 

It is recommended that bystanders and witnesses to a domestic violence incident should only get involved if it is safe and legal to do so. If the situation is already violent or looks like escalating quickly, people should not intervene directly. Call the Gardaí on 999. The only effective bystander intervention is a non-violent one.  

It is intended, subject to the necessary funding being made available, that the national awareness campaign will run for a period of 6 years up to 2021.  

The Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016-2021 and Action Plan is available at www.cosc.ie. 

Recent statistics on domestic violence 

In the recent pan-European Eurobarometer survey on perceptions, attitudes and awareness of gender-based violence (published November 2016), 77 per cent of the Irish sample regarded domestic violence against women as either “fairly” or “very” common in Ireland. 89 per cent of these respondents in Ireland reported that they felt that domestic violence against women is “unacceptable and should be punishable by law”.  

· 92 per cent of the Irish respondents to the Eurobarometer survey were of the opinion that violence against women is more likely to occur at home.  

· 26 per cent reported knowing of a man or woman in their circle of friends and family who has been a victim of any form of domestic violence. 

· 20 per cent know of a victim of such violence in their immediate area or neighbourhood. 

· 11 per cent know of victims where they work or study. 

Only 12 per cent agreed that “domestic violence is a private matter and should be handled within the family”. 

91 per cent are aware of support services for women who are victims of domestic violence. 

According to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) pan-European survey on violence against women (2014): 

· 8 per cent of Irish women surveyed experienced sexual violence by a partner or a non-partner since the age of 15. 

· Irish women surveyed experienced a number of constituents of domestic abuse by a partner: 

o Psychological violence (31%) 

o Controlling behaviour (23%) 

o Economic violence (10%) 

o Abusive behaviour (24%) 

· Irish women contacted the police as a result of violence: 

o by a partner (21%) 

o by a non-partner (16%) 

· 33 per cent of women in Ireland perceived the frequency of violence against women to be “very common”. 

· 41 per cent of Irish women reported knowing a victim of domestic violence in their family or circle of friends. 

· 42 per cent of women reported being aware of laws and political initiatives to prevent domestic violence against women.