€1m campaign to combat domestic violence

The Government has signed off on a budget of almost €1m to fund a national awareness campaign to combat domestic violence.

The campaign will encourage family members, friends, and bystanders to “take action” to stop the abuse.

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald yesterday said the campaign will be launched “shortly”.

She said a Domestic Violence Bill will be published in the coming months that will make it possible to get an “emergency” barring order.

Speaking at the AGM of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Ms Fitzgerald said she had secured funding for a six-year national awareness campaign.

“Its aim will be to change behaviours and attitudes in relation to domestic and sexual violence,” she told the conference.

“It will encourage family members, friends, and bystanders to take action to combat domestic violence.

“I want the message that ‘domestic violence must stop’ to reach into households across this country. I want women to feel that they can reach out and ask for help.”

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

The Department of Justice declined to reveal the budget for the campaign, but department documents seen by the Irish Examiner

show that €950,000 has been allocated to it.

Ms Fitzgerald said she expects to publish the Domestic Violence Bill later in the year.

She said the bill contains “key improvements” in the law, such as:

  • Making it easier to get barring, safety, and protection orders;
  • Making it possible to secure an emergency barring order;
  • Enabling a victim to give evidence at trial by video-link;
  • Allowing victims to bring a person, such as a community worker, to support them during the case.

Ms Fitzgerald told the conference her department was developing the National Women’s Strategy for 2017-20, but indicated that abortion would not be included.

NWCI director Orla O’Connor said its Strategic Plan 2016-20 sets an immediate priority of the repeal of the Eighth Amendment and the provision of abortion services here.

NWCI director Orla O’Connor
NWCI director Orla O’Connor

She said it also highlights the gender pay gap, women in leadership roles, and recognition of women’s caring role.

Commenting on the ‘feminist agenda’ of the conference, Ms Fitzgerald said she was particularly pleased that feminism is being reclaimed by young women, and cited the impact of comedian Amy Schumer.

“Indeed feminism is becoming dangerously fashionable,” she said. “When Amy Schumer says that ‘anyone who is not a feminist is an insane person’, you know that feminism is becoming hot.”

nwci.ie; Women’s Aid national freephone helpline: 1800 341900; safeireland.ie


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