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Outrage as Adams 'pays lip service' to domestic abuse victims

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Gerry Adams with  staff and volunteers of Women's Aid, who were joined by members of the Oireachtas in a minute's silence outside Leinster House for a campaign in support of 78 women murdered by their partners or ex-partners since 1996. Photo: Tom Burke

Gerry Adams with staff and volunteers of Women's Aid, who were joined by members of the Oireachtas in a minute's silence outside Leinster House for a campaign in support of 78 women murdered by their partners or ex-partners since 1996. Photo: Tom Burke

Gerry Adams with staff and volunteers of Women's Aid, who were joined by members of the Oireachtas in a minute's silence outside Leinster House for a campaign in support of 78 women murdered by their partners or ex-partners since 1996. Photo: Tom Burke

JUST days after facing fresh calls to come forward with information on the whereabouts of the 'Disappeared' - who included mother of 10, Jean McConville - Gerry Adams bizarrely took part in a memorial for the women and children killed in the home.

The Sinn Fein leader joined demonstrators to remember the women and children killed as a result of domestic violence, as he held a pair of shoes to honour one anonymous victim.

His involvement was criticised by sexual abuse victim Mairia Cahill - who described it as "lip service".

"I support the Women's Aid violence campaign," she said.

Ms Cahill claimed that Foyle Women's Aid (FWA) have been instrumental in highlighting how Sinn Fein members have in some cases threatened their workers, with other republicans saying they shouldn't work with the police to resolve cases.

"They have also stated publicly how the IRA and Sinn Fein have attempted to cover up sex abuse," Ms Cahill told the Irish Independent last night.

"Not offering proper support to places like FWA in order that staff are free to support women without fear, is ironic."

All shapes, styles and colours of women's shoes were lined up in a moving display to recall the nameless victims who had died in their own homes.

The memorial, organised by Women's Aid, the national organisation supporting women affected by domestic violence, took place outside the Dail yesterday.

A minute's silence was observed for the 78 women murdered by their partners or ex-partners in this country since 1996.

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Ten children murdered alongside their mothers were also tragically remembered with a line-up of shoes.

Organisers stressed that the shoes were not those of actual victims but were merely a symbol of their short lives.

Each pair of shoes represented a life stolen through partner violence and was marked with the date of the murder and the victim's age.

The stark display was lit with candles and participants wore black in mourning.

In a statement, Gerry Adams described violence against women as a "deep-seated problem in society which affects a huge number of citizens".

"The scale and gravity of this problem requires a more robust State response," he said.

He called on the Minister for Justice to provide time for the Dail to debate "this hugely important issue".

The Sinn Fein leader said he was hopeful it will happen during the annual 16 Days of Action Opposing Violence Against Women, taking place between November 25 and December 10.

Last week, Labour TD Robert Dowds called on Mr Adams or any member of Sinn Fein to come forward with any information they may have on the 'Disappeared'.

Women's Aid is calling on the Government to implement the recommendations contained in a recent Oireachtas Justice Committee report on sexual and domestic violence.

Among those recommendations are that women and other victims of domestic violence have access to protection orders 24/7 if they feel they are in danger.

Margaret Martin, Director of Women's Aid, said the 78 murdered women represent over half of all resolved female homicide cases, with one in every two women murdered being killed by a current or former boyfriend, partner or husband.

She outlined how better recognition of risk factors for intimate partner homicide would lead to an improved response to domestic abuse by the State and its agencies.


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