[Sinn Fein]

10th October 2002

Concern at ramifications of Supreme Court decision declaring interim barring orders unconstitutional

Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Family Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has expressed his concern at the serious ramifications of the Supreme Court's decision to declare interim barring orders unconstitutional.

``The Dublin South-West Deputy said: ``The ruling of the Supreme Court opens up a terrifying vista for many women around the state. This decision coupled with the delays in getting free legal aid has serious ramifications for many spouses and their families that unfortunately find themselves in a violent and abusive relationship.

While we accept that the absence of time limits was a serious flaw in the current legislation, we are also extremely concerned that there is little protection at this moment in time for those vulnerable people, primarily women, who obtain barring orders against partners alleged to have carried out mental and physical out assaults.

Already I am hearing reports of some of those individuals who were the subject of barring orders attempting to re-enter the home from which they have been barred.

``While the issue of barring orders is being reviewed it is essential that measures be taken to protect women who may be under threat. A full hearing on a barring order can take months and during that time the woman seeking the order remains vulnerable to a threat in her own home.

``Since 1996 alone 83 women have been killed in this state, 40% of them at the hands of partners or ex-partners. The issue of barring orders is one of great seriousness, it is at the time of seeking to obtain the order that the woman is at greatest risk.

``I would ask the Minister for Justice, as he reviews this legislation to be conscious of the need to protect those living in fear and to provide sufficient resources to allow the Courts to process barring order applications as quickly as possible, allowing the rights of all parties to be respected.''

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