124. Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to introduce legislation to enable the ratification of the Council of Europe convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33694/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): It is my intention is to seek Government approval for Ireland to sign the Istanbul Convention in the coming weeks.
The Deputy will be aware that the Convention has a very broad scope across a number of policy areas with potential policy and legislative implications. The provisions of the Convention and the legislative and administrative arrangements that would enable Ireland to ratify the Convention have been identified following consultations with Government Departments and agencies. I intend to include those actions in the new National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence. I expect to publish the Strategy, which will cover a multi-year period from 2015, in the coming months.
Current Irish legislation already implements many articles contained in the Convention. The EU Victims Directive which sets out minimum standards across the European Union on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime will also implement articles contained in the Convention. Legislation to give effect to the EU Directive is currently being drafted.
A general scheme of a Domestic Violence Bill was published by my Department on 24th July, 2015. This legislation will enhance the legislative measures available within the civil law system to support and protect victims. The Bill, when enacted, will also introduce reforms required to enable Ireland to ratify the Istanbul Convention.
In addition, other legislative reform will implement elements of the Istanbul Convention. These include the recently published Sexual Offences Bill, the Court of Appeal Act, 2015 and the Children and Family Relationships Act, 2015.