We must examine how the justice system punishes perpetrators  of  Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence  - Smyth

Published on: 23 November 2023

Fianna Fáil TD in Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth, has called on the Department of Justice and the Courts Service to examine sentencing in cased of Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence  (DSGBV).
Deputy Smyth was speaking following a round table discussion on DSGBV with key stakeholders and members of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party in Leinster House. 
Following the discussion, she said, “Fianna Fáil in Government recognises the scale of the problem of DSGBV in Ireland. Truly tackling and reducing the prevalence of DSGBV requires a co-ordinated whole of Government response with a dedicated central resource to continuously drive this work.
"I very much welcome the passing of legislation yesterday which will establish a DSGBV Agency. Cuan: the Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence Agency which is expected to be operational by January 2024 will be dedicated to tackling such violence and supporting victims and survivors.
"We know that violence against women happens in many forms, every day, in every ­community and we continue to see, in Ireland and elsewhere, male violence being perpetrated against women, and women being fearful because of the threat of violence.
"This year, the Government introduced tougher sentences for violence against women. The maximum sentence for assault causing harm has doubled, the scope of the existing harassment offence has been widened, and in cases of non-fatal strangulation or suffocation causing serious harm, there is now a maximum sentence of up to life imprisonment. In addition, non-fatal strangulation and stalking are now standalone offences.
"However, courts do not always impose the harshest sentence available to them under the law and I'm of the view that it is now time for the Department of Justice and the Courts Service to examine sentencing in DSGBV cases.
"We don't have a centralised data system which records sentences imposed, and it can be difficult to attain information relating to sentencing from the Courts Service.
"We are doing more to protect victims and survivors of DSGBV and to ensure the right support is in place for those who need it.
"But without dealing with sentencing, the change we are initiating will be ­limited. We now need to take an honest look at how the justice system responds and punishes perpetrators of these most brutal acts of violence in order to create a safer Ireland for all.''