Belfast Telegraph

Plea to act on domestic violence

Victims of domestic violence are not coming forward because of Ireland's immigration laws, it has been claimed.

The Immigration Council of Ireland (ICI) warned men and women are trapped in violent relationships because they are not offered proper protection by the legislation.

Spokesman Brian Killoran said victims whose status is dependent on a spouse are living in fear and are not coming forward because of beliefs it could impact on their ability to remain in the country.

"In recent years our frontline services assisted in 54 cases where domestic violence was a factor, eight of these cases were in 2013, through our work we are also aware of many other incidents where victims are being supported by others," he said.

"We welcome the willingness of the Oireachtas Committee to examine this issue and are asking members to ensure that its consideration of the issues involved is conducted in a timely manner in order to offer hope to victims."

In a submission to the Oireachtas Justice Committee, campaigners have highlighted shortfalls in the provision of emergency accommodation and welfare support to victims and called for promised Dail hearings on the matter.

The ICI and eight other groups have asked for domestic violence to be formally recognised in immigration laws, for reform of current administrative practices, and greater provision of safe emergency accommodation and welfare benefits.

It also demanded that the Irish government sign and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on combating and preventing violence against women and domestic violence as a matter of urgency.

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