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Lives at risk from domestic violence as Covid-19 restrictions keep people in their homes, Dáil told

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Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Picture: Tom Burke

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Picture: Tom Burke

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Picture: Tom Burke

LIVES are at risk due to domestic violence happening as coronavirus restrictions keep people in their homes, the Dáil has heard.

Fianna Fáil TD Jennifer Murnane O'Connor listed a spike in calls to charities dealing with the issue as she said that people have been asked to stay at home but "we must now realise and accept that not every home is safe".

She said Women's Aid and Childline have reported an increase in calls and the gardaí have had a 20pc rise in the number of calls relating to domestic abuse.

"The conditions recommended for public health have put lives at risk from domestic violence, and I do not say that lightly," the Carlow-Kilkenny TD said.

She said it was welcome that anyone fleeing an unsafe situation is not forced to abide by the distance restrictions but added: "we need more".

Ms Murnane O'Connor said there needs to be grants to make up for a loss of fundraising income by organisations dealing with domestic violence.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said domestic violence is a matter of concern, that the gardaí are treating it as a priority and that the courts are available and open to hear cases.

Earlier he said the women, men and children "who perhaps feel most vulnerable and afraid at this time are victims of domestic abuse, those whose homes are, tragically, anything but safe in these uncertain times."

He said it was recognised at an early stage that being asked to stay at home would bring "added risk and a real sense of fear for victims of domestic abuse".

Mr Flanagan said a plan was put in place including a special Garda operation and measures by the Courts Service and Legal Aid Board to prioritise domestic abuse and childcare cases.

He said a "hard-hitting" public awareness campaign was also launched and he urged anyone suffering domestic abuse to reach out for help.

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