Mayor of Drogheda Michelle Hall.
Mayor of Drogheda Michelle Hall has welcomed the new zero tolerance strategy to tackle domestic, sexual and gender-based violence announced by Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee and Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O'Gorman.
The report has four pillars: Prevention, Protections , Prosecution and Policy co-ordination and will see double the number of refuge spaces and improve services for victims, establishment of a statutory agency for DSGBV and double the maximum sentence for assault causing harm from 5 years to 10 years.
"This strategy is a culmination of a huge amount of advocacy from many different stakeholders that support survivors of this violence” Cllr. Hall said.
Recently, Cllr Joanna Byrne and I highlighted the need for safer public spaces in Drogheda for women. This strategy will develop and resource safety audits and action plans that highlight needs such as lighting, seating, safe access, safe spaces to wait for public transport and for those working in the Night-Time economy.
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“According to the strategy, the implementation will be supported by the Department of Justice and Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, etc. This needs to be funded accordingly and in a timely manner.
“Women in Drogheda can contact myself or Cllr Byrne to highlight particular areas that they feel needs extra attention to make them feel safe.
“I welcome the work Louth County Council has already begun, such as the cleaning of Meatmarket Lane, an area that we highlighted as a space where women don't feel safe. When a place is well looked after and cared for, women feel safer.
“It's also reassuring to see that public transport is being addressed so that users and staff will be in the safest possible working environment in the future.
“However I am concerned that Operation Encompass, a domestic abuse intervention for children has not yet been decided upon.
“The Interdepartmental group is to meet this summer to make a decision on a rollout in the 'Irish context'.
Educational staff and Gardaí know that children who experience domestic abuse may be arriving in school with no sleep, no food, and feeling traumatised.
“In Ireland, despite high reported numbers of domestic abuse, there's no mechanism for staff to support these children as they are not informed of a Garda-attended event. Operation Encompass is a recommendation of the Vivian Geiran report on Drogheda Community Safety and Wellbeing, and I'm calling on the Ministers to ensure that a decision is made before school returns in Autumn."