Men and women leaving situations of domestic abuse and coercive control must be given the space and time to access support and safety, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill said she welcomes the debate on introducing domestic violence leave before the Dáil tonight, which provides for a period of paid leave as a consequence of domestic violence.
Deputy Carroll MacNeill said: “Victims must be given the time to assess their situation and to determine a plan in the best interests of themselves and their children. They may need to move house and/or schools, they may need to establish safety plans, they may need to increase the supports around them.
“In every case, victims need the time and space to do this, and it must not come at a financial or professional cost.
“Progress has been made in tackling domestic violence. We have now had several convictions for coercive control; one in Donegal one in Dublin, and a five-year barring order for coercive control in Clare.
“Within my own constituency of Dún Laoghaire, a ‘no access’ recommendation was made by a Section 47 assessor in a family law case where the issue of control was at its core. Something I honestly wondered would I ever see back when I made my maiden Dáil speech on this subject.
“I am not the only person surprised – Catriona Gleeson of Safe Ireland made the same observation in relation to the criminal conviction at the Law Society Family and Child Law Conference last month.
“We’re beginning to see real cultural change, as well as change within our Courts and legal proceedings in terms of convictions and assessments. But this is only the beginning of change.
“The next thing to watch, especially over the Christmas period, is the use, by preparators, of ‘welfare checks’ to continue to exert control. This occurs in situations where a victim has left a partner, but the partner continues to use Gardaí to check on the welfare of the child.
“Often there is no substantive evidence to back up the needs for such check, while they force Gardaí to show up at victim’s home. This can occur at any time, causing a huge amount of distress and anxiety to the victim and their children.
“Progress has been made, but there is much further still to go to really turn the tide against domestic violence and coercive control.”