Waterford TD welcomes Garda operation tackling domestic violence
Waterford TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh has welcomed a new initiative from An Garda Síochána to protect families at increased risk of domestic violence during the Covid-19 health emergency.
As part of Operation Faoisimh, Gardaí will phone previous victims of domestic abuse to see if there are any current issues of concern and to ensure the protection of families. The service is run by the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) and Divisional Protective Service Units (DPSU) and will be rolled out nationally.
Mr Ó Cathasaigh, who is the Green Party spokesperson for Social Protection, has acknowledged the extra pressure being placed on family units by the restriction on movements introduced to tackle the spread of Covid-19.
"We are all coping with increased stress and anxiety at this time, but for households with a history of domestic violence, many women and children in particular find themselves without the support network or release valve they might usually rely on.
"The rollout of Operation Faoisimh is a very welcome development in this context. It has the potential to highlight existing and potential issues within the community and provide a support to people who are particularly vulnerable at this difficult time.
"However, he said that he would also like to see the Government expand access to domestic abuse services in response to the crisis – in particular an emergency warning system in pharmacies.
"We have first-hand experience in Waterford City of the success of initiatives like ‘Ask for Angela’ which has been rolled out in pubs and nightclubs to protect woman from abuse. There could well be a role for pharmacies, which remain open at the minute, to link in with this Garda initiative.
"Waterford was one of the first counties in Ireland to introduce the ‘Ask for Angela’ system back in 2017 when Waterford Council partnered with WIT Students Union.
A statement from Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid says: “Our National Helpline is hearing from women already at a heightened state of alert, trauma and anxiety because of the emergency. There is a ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances which could see an increase in the number and the severity of incidents of domestic abuse. The current crisis will also bring increased financial hardship for families in these circumstances and is also reducing options for victims to be able to leave dangerous situations.
“Women’s Aid is committed to listening, believing and supporting women experiencing domestic abuse, especially at this time of increased need. The staff and volunteers on the 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 are working to provide the same level of support to callers and our face to face and court support workers have moved to providing specialist support by phone.”