Limerick domestic violence victims waiting four weeks for court protection

Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan

VICTIMS of domestic and gender-based violence in Limerick are waiting up to four weeks to receive temporary protection orders from the district and circuit courts.

That’s according to Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan who said that latest figures from the Courts Service show that the current waiting time for hearings in Family Court varies between three and 24 months.

“Some survivors will turn to the courts for help in freeing them from their abuse by applying for domestic violence orders, divorce orders or criminal convictions. However, the postcode lottery in terms of courts waiting times is adding to their trauma,” Deputy Quinlivan explained.

“Interim barring orders only offer protection for a maximum of eight days. Judges have discretion to hold a hearing for a three-year order on the day the application is made, but it is not feasible for them to do so with such a shortage in the system in the first place.

“This means survivors must reapply for interim orders until their full hearing is scheduled which, in the case of Limerick, could be up to four weeks later.

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“The idea that someone in Limerick who requires a domestic violence order might be facing a wait of four weeks just because they live in Limerick is just unconscionable.

“Women’s Aid have repeatedly described the Family Courts as a process that ‘is prolonged, costly and disempowering’, and that the family law system fails women and children who are separating from a domestic abuser.

“The waiting times faced by those here in Limerick is proof that we are a very long way from realising many of the goals in the Justice Minister’s ‘Zero Tolerance Strategy’.  Ultimately, those being failed are mainly women and children fleeing domestic and gender-based violence, who are finding themselves on a court waiting list for four weeks.

“The Government has continued to ignore Sinn Fein’s calls for additional judges and insist that a report on District and Circuit court appointments is required.

“Fine Gael have been in the Justice department for well over a decade and have failed to provide the very basic requirement of access to justice for those seeking protection from domestic and intimate partner violence.

“It is time for us to do better for survivors in Limerick,” Deputy Quinlivan added.