Legal Advocacy Unit Launched

Legal Advocacy Unit Launched

Posted on July 26, 2018

In 2017, Safe Ireland received a 3 year grant of €30,000 from one of The Community Foundation for Ireland’s Donor Advised Funds for the establishment of a Legal Advocacy Unit, which was launched in early July at an event in Dublin city centre.

Resolve - Safe Ireland’s new dedicated legal information and advocacy service, was established in response to research carried out by Safe Ireland which involved hundreds of women’s experiences and consultation with a wide range of legal professionals. The findings, which were also echoed by a number of other research reports including the Garda Inspectorate’s and others, revealed that the justice system, the system supposed to protect women, is fragmented, under-resourced, poorly trained and significantly unaware of the complexity of domestic violence.  

These findings combined with the Irish Government’s obligations under the Council of Europe (Istanbul) Convention on Domestic Violence and Violence Against Women demonstrate the need to increase professionals understanding of the complexities of domestic violence and their capacity to respond appropriately to ensure that victims of domestic violence are supported across their legal system trajectory. It is imperative that frontline professionals have access to specialist training in relation to coercive control, trauma sensitive responses, addressing bias and understanding diverse needs and risk assessment in relation to victims of domestic violence. 

The ultimate aim of Resolve is to support women’s access to justice and recovery. The service will perform a number of functions to achieve this aim including:

  • Providing accurate information and appropriate referrals to women who are victims/survivors of domestic violence.
  • Providing training and education to key stakeholders to increase capacity and understanding of the complexities of domestic violence.
  • Facilitate interagency collaboration and links between agencies to ensure a more joined up response.
  • Act as an observatory to evaluate and monitor the justice system’s responses to women experiencing domestic violence.
  • Bringing voice to the women who have been for too long silenced by the Justice System.

The service will be predominantly used by women and their supporters but also advocates, court services, Gardaí, Solicitors and Barristers, Legislators and Policy Makers.

Already, the service has made a significant impact by providing wrap around interagency support for 24 complex cases and direct Information and referral service to 85 women. It has delivered bespoke professional development to 400 legal professionals and DV advocates. One of the major achievements of the service so far has been the wide suite of evidence based changes in Irish Legislation including the new criminal offence of coercive control as a result of Safe Ireland’s effective lobbying and stronger collaboration with key stakeholders.

Plans to develop the service further include identifying and securing resources to scale up services. This would hopefully see increased numbers of professionals trained and an expansion of the Direct Information and Referral Service. Further research to understand women’s experience accessing the justice system is also needed.

Domestic Violence is an area where The Community Foundation for Ireland and our donors are committed to making a lasting change. To see the impact already achieved in the area of women and girls click here, if you are interested in working with us on our women’s fund click here.