State must to do more to end violence against women

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has today welcomed the publication of the Council of Europe GREVIO Committee’s examination into Ireland, which found that the State’s provision of legal aid does not meet the current demand for victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence (DSCBV).

GREVIO (The Group of Experts on Action Against Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence) published their report today, following their first baseline review under the Istanbul Convention, to which the Commission made detailed submissions in December 2022.

GREVIO, in acknowledging their concerns, called on the State to ensure that legal aid in civil proceedings is more accessible for victims of gender based violence, in particular by raising the income threshold for eligibility. In addition, it called for the extension of offences for which free legal aid can be provided to victims of gender based violence, ensuring that it is provided as early as at the reporting/investigation stage. In our own recommendations, we noted the limitations of the Legal Aid Board, particularly its exclusion from providing legal representation before many quasi-judicial tribunals and bodies which victims and survivors of DSGBV may engage with as they deal with issues relating to social welfare and housing.

We strongly welcome the Report’s recommendation on the need for a domestic homicide review. GREVIO encourages the State to introduce a system, such as a domestic violence killings review mechanism, to analyse all cases of gender-based killings of women, with the aim of preventing them in the future, preserving the safety of women and holding to account both the perpetrator and the multiple agencies that come into contact with the parties.

We echo GREVIO’s finding that more must be done to mainstream the needs of women with disabilities in the goals and objectives of the Third National Strategy on DSGBV, especially since women with disabilities in Ireland are three times more likely to experience domestic violence and experience rape, psychological violence and intimate partner violence at a significantly higher rate than non-‑disabled women.

Other recommendations include:

On Data Collection: GREVIO found that data collection by State agencies was significantly lagging and fails to provide an overall picture of domestic violence, other forms of violence against women and data in relation to victims. It further found individual agencies were collecting data according to their own needs resulting in inconsistent and non-comparable data sets. It encouraged the State to effectively quantify the number of victims of Magdalene and Mother and Baby Institutions, National Schools and of symphysiotomy, while avoiding unreasonable requirements and timeframes. In our submission, we had called for urgent action by the State to improve the disaggregated data collected and used by An Garda Síochána and that the State works with stakeholders to develop a comprehensive statistical database containing robust data on DSGBV from different administrative sources.

On the Third National Strategy: The Group welcomed the introduction of the Strategy on DSGBV and its implementation plan, in addition to new legislation introduced with a view to aligning the State’s legal and policy frameworks with the Istanbul Convention. The Report did note however that pending the establishment of the new co-ordinating body, the State should ensure ‘solid co-ordination, implementation and monitoring of progress in the implementation of the Strategy based on a set of pre-defined indicators.’ GREVIO also strongly encourages the State, in line with our own submission, to pursue efforts to include the principle of equality in the Constitution whilst removing any provision that perpetuates gender stereotypes. It noted the gap between progressive policies and legislation enacted by the State when contrasted with the reality on the ground, made worse by anachronistic provisions in the constitution.

Chief Commissioner Sinéad Gibney said:

“Violence against women remains at crisis levels in Ireland. The State is obliged to do everything in its power to keep women and girls safe, in our communities and in our homes. In order to better understand the nature and extent of violence against women, we need better data. The last number of years has witnessed growing frustration around the alarming levels of domestic, sexual and gender based violence in Ireland. We reiterate our calls for domestic homicide reviews, and for a gold standard of data collection so we can work toward a zero tolerance culture toward violence against women in Ireland.”


For further information, please contact:
Sarah Clarkin, IHREC Communications Manager,
01 852 9641 / 087 468 7760
Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Editors notes:

GREVIO is the independent expert body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention). GREVIO’s role is similar to that of UN Treaty Bodies.

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention, is the first legally binding instrument that creates a comprehensive legal framework to combat violence against women and girls. It opened for signatures in May 2011. Following the ratification of 10 States Parties, it entered into force in August 2014.

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.