Fianna Fáil Senator and Seanad Spokesperson for Justice, Lorraine Clifford-Lee, has said the minimum contribution payment towards civil legal aid when making a domestic violence related application to the District Court, should be waived.
Commenting on reports this morning, the Dublin based Senator said, “Some 11,000 incidents of domestic violence are reported in Ireland annually, yet only few result in arrest or conviction. Last year alone, leading charity, Women’s Aid received almost 17,000 calls relating to domestic violence or abuse.
“The last Government more than doubled the minimum contribution payment from €50 to €130. Victims of domestic violence are required to make this payment if they wish to have legal representation through the Legal Aid Board, which puts an unbearable burden on these people at an already very sensitive time.
“The specific case highlighted this morning by Free Legal Advice Centre is just one example of how this fee can act as a barrier to many victims receiving legal representation through the Legal Aid Board and sufficient access to justice. Those who are courageous enough to walk out of their home, brave enough to get away from their abuser must be better protected by our State.
“Any cost to proceedings causes further stress for any vulnerable person trying to gain refuge from a violent domestic situation but particularly when a former partner can afford to pay for legal representation privately.
“I recently raised these concerns with the Chairman of the Legal Aid Board, Mr. Philip O’Leary during the Joint Oireachtas Justice and Equality Committee.
“During a time when more focus needs to be placed on supporting the victims of domestic abuse and sexual crime in Ireland, increased measures must be put in place to offer protection.
“Fee’s when a domestic violence application is being made should be waived to guarantee legal representation for victims,” concluded Senator Clifford-Lee.