Press Release

Domestic violence is an issue for us all – Hanafin

“Responsibility for tackling domestic violence rests with every member of society, every Government agency and Department, every statutory and voluntary organisation, and every individual,” Minister for Children, Mary Hanafin T.D., said today (Tuesday, February 12th, 2002)

Minister Hanafin was speaking at ´Violence against Women – An Issue of Health´, a Women´s Aid conference which was held in Dublin Castle.

“Our legislation is regarded as amongst the best in Europe; the Garda policy is clear and unambiguous. Any incident of domestic violence reported to the Gardaí must be fully investigated,” the Minister stressed.

She highlighted the fact that funding to health Boards to provide support has been increased to €11.5 million.

Initiatives from the Departments of Social Community and Family Affairs, Education and Science, and Justice, Equality and Law Reform, also tackle the issue of domestic violence in a variety of ways, including the funding of community groups, educational programmes and research on this issue.

“The fact that domestic violence occurs in the family home – a place which should offer security, comfort and love – at the hand of a person you live with, can make the crime even more devastating for the victim,” said the Minister.

She added that in launching the Youth Homelessness Strategy last year, domestic violence was identified as a contributing factor to young people becoming homeless.

“International research shows that children are present in 80% of cases of domestic violence. This confirms the need to expand early intervention and family support projects. Children who grow up in a domestic violence situation carry a greater risk of experiencing domestic violence, either as a perpetrator or a victim in their adult lives. Therefore, children should be protected early, along with those other family members at risk,” she added.

The Minister referred to American research, showing that between 22%-35% of all females presenting to Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments suffer from abuse-related issues. She said that this highlighted the importance of training our medical and nursing professions in how to identify domestic violence and how to deal with it, once identified.

“An estimated 75% of major hospitals with A&E units have attended Women´s Aid specialist training for health professionals, and it is important that this is expanded,” she said.

In addition, some of the main hospitals have already developed protocols, and the Chief Executives Officers of the Health Boards recently set up a working group to develop guidelines on dealing with domestic violence.

“Children exposed to domestic violence learn that living in fear is a normal feeling and that violence is somehow an acceptable method of resolving conflict. In what should be a caring and nurturing environment, a child´s mental, emotional and physical well-being can be severely damaged. I welcome the fact that domestic violence is no longer viewed as a private affair, in which society does not get involved. We all have a role,” Minister Hanafin concluded.