UN to question Irish Government on lack of legal aid for domestic abuse victims

Ireland's Ambassador to the UN will be questioned over our country's record on women's rights today.

Patricia O'Brien will appear on behalf of the State before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in Geneva

She takes the place of Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald who is staying in Ireland in the wake of the Garda whistleblower scandal.

The Free Legal Advice Centres have already told the committee that civil legal aid needs to be more accessible.

FLAC chief executive Eilis Barry says people have to pay a minimum of €130 to get legal aid, no matter what their situation:

"What people will be shocked, I think, to hear is that even victims of domestic violence have to make this payment before proceeding with barring orders or safety orders can be launched," she said.

"And that puts an intolerable burden on people at a very vulnerable time."

Among the topics the Committee will look at is Article 41.2 of our Constitution, which assigns women a special role in the home, rather than the workforce.

Deputy director of The Irish Council for Civil Liberties Deirdre Duffy said that the Government is confused about changing it.

"We've had a constitutional convention in 2013, there was an overwhelming majority of people at the convention who voted for this clause to be repealed,

"It was something like 88%.

"That recommendation went to Government. But one of the nuances that the recommendation from the Convention contained was that they wanted to insert something about caring in society - and the Government seem to be not too sure what to do about the caring aspect."

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