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Imperative Northern Ireland gets Clare's Law

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 11/04/2016

Domestic abuse is one of those subjects that is too often hidden because of its very nature
Domestic abuse is one of those subjects that is too often hidden because of its very nature

Domestic abuse is one of those subjects that is too often hidden because of its very nature.

It is therefore a most positive step that the father of a young woman who was killed by her violent former boyfriend has joined timely demands for a new law which could give more and better protection to victims of domestic abuse in Northern Ireland.

Retired prison officer Michael Brown, whose daughter Clare Wood was brutally murdered in 2009, dedicated himself to an ultimately successful campaign in England and Wales for the introduction of a disclosure law.

Appropriately known as Clare's Law, it enables women to find out if their partners have an abusive past.

Clare was strangled and set alight by her former boyfriend, who had a history of domestic violence, but she had not been aware of this.

It is right that pressure is growing on Stormont to have similar legislation enacted here, where the police respond to a domestic incident every 19 minutes.

This is shocking in itself, but so is the revelation from charity Women's Aid that six murders in the province last year were linked to domestic abuse.

Mr Brown, who has lived through the personal agony of losing his daughter, has underlined that without similar legislation in Northern Ireland there is nothing to protect women here against serial perpetrators of domestic violence. Mr Brown has rightly said that women here "deserve better".

Northern Ireland is lagging behind the rest of the UK in this respect, which so often seems the case.

In February Justice Minister David Ford launched a public consultation to consider the potential introduction of a domestic violence disclosure scheme.

But more urgency on this matter is now needed.

A motion calling for the implementation of Clare's Law in Northern Ireland is to be brought forward at the ICTU conference in Londonderry on Wednesday.

It is imperative that our politicians from all parties will do something about it.

Mr Brown, who is backing the campaign, has told this newspaper that it is "a nonsense" the scheme is not available here.

It is very hard to disagree with him.

Belfast Telegraph

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