Silence honours murder victims

BROKEN families united outside the Dáil yesterday to observe a minute’s silence in memory of women across Ireland who have been murdered.

More than 60 people marked International Day against Violence against Women by lighting candles in memory of the dead as an installation of black and white tiles recorded the date each of the 138 women were murdered since 1996 in Ireland.

The event, organised by Women’s Aid, also launched the global 16 Days of Action against violence against women.

“Research shows that nearly half of the murders were committed by a husband, ex-husband, partner or ex-partner,” said Margaret Martin, director of Women’s Aid.

“With almost one woman murdered every month — with a significant number as a result of domestic violence — it is imperative that we act now before more lives are lost.

“It is important for us to hold this outside the Dáil so we can raise it as a political issue. The only way we can tackle it is through a consistent approach by Government.”

The families of Rachel O’Reilly, Siobhan Kearney, Mamie Walsh and Rosie Collinson were among those at the minute’s silence.

Anne Delcassian, whose sister Irene White was murdered in her Dundalk home in April 2005, travelled from Manchester to help highlight the plight of domestic violence victims in Ireland.

“It is painful for family members to get together, but there is a lot of support among us because we are all after the one goal: justice,” said Ms Delcassian.

“I’m not just here for Irene, I’m here for every single woman murdered in Ireland, even prior to 1996.

“There seems to be no protection for women stuck in violent relationships here; the system is weakening.

“Women’s Aid are doing their best but there is little or no funding for them.

“The major companies should take advantage of the tax incentives of donating to a charity and plough their money into this cause.”

Ms White was stabbed to death at her kitchen sink. Despite two arrests, no one has been charged with her murder.

On Good Friday — the anniversary of her murder — Ms Delcassian held a vigil outside her sister’s home in memory of the 126 women who had, up to then, been killed violently across Ireland.

Since then the family of murdered Cork teenager Sheola Keaney and Advic (Advocates for Victims of Homicide Ireland) have held similar events.

Memoriam cards remembering the 138 women have been circulated to politicians and domestic violence services countywide.

Meanwhile, Women’s Aid is calling on the Government to introduce a national domestic violence plan similar to the one in place in Britain.

“[Murders of women] in London has been reduced by more than 90% in four years,” said Mr Martin.

“The plan focuses on protection of victims of domestic violence, including intensive training for police and crown prosecution service, specialised domestic violence courts and sentencing guidelines for domestic violence.

“The UK experience shows that a co-ordinated plan, fully resourced, with a focus on the legal system can and does work.”

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