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20/10/2021

Laois Domestic abuse crimes often going unprosecuted

Laois Domestic abuse crimes often going unprosecuted

Crimes against Laois women and children in abusive homes are often not prosecuted because victims are reluctant to take legal action, the Garda Chief has said.  

“A lot of what we do is offer them advice and support and hope that they will go along and obtain the necessary orders in court that offers them some protection, and give us the necessary law to take action. 

“Domestic crimes are about the breakdown of personal relationships. We’ve had a lot of involvement with people who won’t appear in the statistics.

“The domestic violence service is challenged for want of a premises,” Garda Chief Superintendent John Scanlan said at the Joint Policing Committee meeting this September.

Under the heading of domestic crimes, his figures showed a 4% drop this year compared to last year, for the period of April, May and June, from 138 to 132 cases. However the Chief Supt said this is because many of the crimes are instead listed under other catergories of crime such as assault.

The ongoing lack of a domestic violence refuge in Laois was highlighted by Cllr Thomasina Connell, a practicing solicitor, at the September meeting of Portlaoise Municipal District.

She tabled a motion asking Laois County Council what progress has been made.

“It's really important we keep this issue alive. Women are sent to Longford but they don't want to do that so they stay in the family home. I will not stand over that. This has to be delivered,” she said.

Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley seconded, noting that 400 cases a year are supported by Laois Domestic Abuse Service (LDAS), with 100 leaving the county to stay in the nearest refuge. She said the new refuge would be funded by Government and run by TUSLA.

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald also supports the search, adding that children must be allowed to stay near enough to keep going to their own school and sports clubs and to see their friends. 

The council replied that it is working closely with LDAS to find a suitable site, to be in Portlaoise, and to plan the refuge.

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