Wednesday 16 December 2020
Rachel Woods MLA has said that she is looking forward to the Domestic Abuse and Family Proceeding Bill reaching its Final Stage, expected to happen early in 2021.
The Bill passed Final Consideration Stage last night (Tuesday 15 December) with a number of amendments originally tabled by Rachel having been accepted by the House.
Rachel Woods, MLA for North Down and Justice Committee member said: "This legislation has been a long time in the making and finally, we are close to rectifying the situation where victims of domestic abuse in Northern Ireland are afforded less protections than others across the devolved regions.
"It's vital that as legislators, we don't forget that our first duty is to victims and survivors of domestic abuse. That's why I'm pleased that amendments I helped develop in Committee around independent oversight, mandatory and annual training for criminal justice agencies and detailed reporting requirements, have made it on to the face of the Bill. Protections for children and young people have also been included.
"I must also acknowledge that I'm disappointed on behalf of victims and survivors that my amendments, namely 4 and 6, on widening access to legal aid for victims of domestic abuse were rejected after firm opposition.
"Many people will face an abuser in a child contact matter, who cannot afford legal representation but are considered to be financially ineligible for legal aid who need to take a case.
"In conclusion, I am glad that this is the start of a much-needed change to better support victims through the criminal justice system."
Sinead McIvor - 07701 302 498