Monday 27 April 2020
Green Party NI MLA Rachel Woods has welcomed progression of the Domestic Abuse Bill to the second stage tomorrow (Tuesday 28 April) but warned that it comes amid a surge in reported incidents.
Justice Committee Member Rachel Woods said: “The need for specific domestic abuse legislation has come into sharp focus since lockdown, with helpline providers recording a spike in calls and PSNI warning of a rise in incidents.
“I welcome that the Bill will come before the Assembly for a second reading tomorrow but I regret the time wasted since Claire Sugden began the legislative process three years ago.
“Scores of people have suffered injury or lost their lives at the hands of violent partners or family members in the last three years. Specific legislation would have sharpened the ability of the criminal justice system to deal with perpetrators and may have prevented loss of life in some instances.
“The draft legislation contains some gaps and while I welcome the progress made I will be looking to introduce a number of legislative amendments, if required. For example, the granting of secure tenancies in cases of domestic violence and abuse, as well as the creation of paid leave for those coming out of a domestic abuse situation.
“The paid leave measure was introduced in New Zealand by Green MP Jan Logie and has come into operation this month. I have been in contact with Jan and I’m confident that the proposal offers practical support at a crucial time.”
“I am also supportive of the creation of a new Commissioner for Domestic Abuse. The role could co-ordinate the work of different agencies in driving down incident rates and ensure that the needs of victims and survivors are being met.”
Sinead McIvor - 07701302498