Chair shines the spotlight on Domestic Violence problem

15th May 2020

Following discussion on the topic at the recent Council meeting the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Siobhan Currie, voiced her concerns, in a statement, regarding the upsurge of domestic abuse and violence.

“At the Council meeting on Wednesday 6 May, my colleagues raised the issue of the worrying increase in instances of Domestic violence which was prevalent as a result restrictions put in  place as part of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

An already difficult situation has been exacerbated by the restrictions of movement and for many social distancing has become social isolation and has resulted in no escape for those suffering domestic abuse and violence.

I unreservedly condemn all instances of domestic abuse and I would express my unwavering support for those who have the courage to report any instances.  I recently visited Fermanagh Women’s Aid and heard at first-hand how the current restrictions have impacted on the need for the services which the group provide. I was deeply concerned by what I learned on that visit.

I welcome the introduction of Coercive Control legislation which was brought before the Assembly by the Justice Minister in April. It is a welcome development enshrining in legislation the criminalisation of psychological, physical, emotional and financial abuse and violent intimidation punishable by up to a maximum of 14 years in prison.

From 23 March to 5 May, PSNI received over 3700 calls relating to domestic violence, an increase of 20% on the same period in 2019. While it is encouraging that so many people are finding the courage to pick up the phone and contact the authorities, it is nevertheless a source of great sadness and concern that behind each phone call is a victim experiencing a horrifying ordeal.

Domestic abuse can have a devastating impact not only on the women and men who are subjected to the abuse but also on the families and particularly on children who sometimes are not just the primary victims of abuse but are also secondary casualties in such situations. That, in itself, is shameful.

I would like to pay tribute to all the organisations who are offering a listening ear and tangible support at this time. You are quite literally life savers and are deserving of our deepest gratitude. On behalf of my colleagues and the people of the district, I thank you most sincerely.”

Councillor Currie concluded by urging victims of domestic abuse or violence to seek help from any of the organisations operating within the district.