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Murder of two women in Newtownabbey an absolute tragedy – Justice Minister

Naomi Long said it is ‘hugely important’ to focus on issues surrounding domestic violence.

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Police launched an investigation after the deaths of two women and a man in an apparent murder-suicide in Newtownabbey (PA)

Police launched an investigation after the deaths of two women and a man in an apparent murder-suicide in Newtownabbey (PA)

Police launched an investigation after the deaths of two women and a man in an apparent murder-suicide in Newtownabbey (PA)

Northern Ireland’s Minister for Justice has said the murder of two women on Friday night was an “absolute tragedy”.

Naomi Long said while she could not comment on the specific incident, it is a tragedy when violence is perpetrated against women.

Ms Long said it is “hugely important” to focus on issues surrounding domestic violence.

Police in north Belfast launched an investigation after the deaths of two women and a man in an apparent murder-suicide in Newtownabbey.

It is understood that a man stabbed his mother and girlfriend during the incident on Friday night.

The three bodies were found at separate properties in Newtownabbey.

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Ms Long said she plans to bring a paper to the Northern Ireland Executive in the coming days that would introduce a strategy to protect women and girls from violence.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that does not have a specific strategy.

“I’m also bringing forward a Miscellaneous Provisions Bill which will be at the Assembly in May and that will deal with a wide range of issues which Sir John Gillen identified in his review of serious sexual offences,” Ms Long told BBC Sunday Politics programme.

“We need to see progress made, for example in education in terms of relationship and sex education, in terms of dispelling rape myths, in terms of dealing with attitude around victim blaming.

“We need to deal with things like street harassment, which is hard to prosecute as crimes but nevertheless has a huge impact on women’s lives.”

Ms Long also defended the decision to make the proposed legislation gender-neutral.

Two women in the UK are murdered every single week and tragically in Northern Ireland on Friday night, we had the murder of two womenKelly Andrews, Women's Aid

“We want to recognise that there are men, there are people who are transgender, there are those who are in same sex-relationships who are also subject to domestic violence and abuse,” she added.

Kelly Andrews, CEO of Women’s Aid in Belfast, said that a gender-neutral strategy “does not cut it”.

“What we’ve been doing has not been good enough,” Ms Andrews added.

“Two women in the UK are murdered every single week and tragically in Northern Ireland on Friday night we had the murder of two women.

“We really need to recognise the gender-specific nature of domestic abuse.

“Seventy per cent of domestic abuse victims are female and that really needs to be recognised.

“So, having a gender-neutral strategy really doesn’t cut it.

“We believe that having gender-neutral language in a strategy doesn’t work.

“We’re the only part of the UK that does not have one, we need to focus on early intervention of schools, about healthy relationships and conversations about consent for boys and girls.

“We need to be looking at workplace policies, we also need to focus as well on perpetrators and reducing reoffending.

“We need to get men involved in the conversation to call out misogynistic behaviour when they see it as well.”

DUP MP Carla Lockhart said her party backs the proposal for specific strategy.

“It is important that Northern Ireland is in line with the rest of the United Kingdom,” she added.

“It’s not all about a strategy, it’s how it’s rolled out on the ground and how we protect women in Northern Ireland.

“That is of utmost importance given recent events and it’s important that it comes forward with immediate effect.”


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