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Source: Social Democratic and Labour Party of Northern Ireland

SDLP Justice Spokesperson Sinead Bradley MLA has said that she is shocked after the Justice Minister Naomi Long failed to move a critical piece of legislation that would give further protections to victims of domestic abuse.

The South Down MLA said that delivering a solution for domestic violence victims is most important and is seeking an urgent meeting with the Justice Minister to address the situation.

Sinead Bradley MLA said:

“I am dismayed by what has happened today. The amendments tabled to the domestic abuse bill were designed to increase access to justice for victims of domestic abuse who are being dragged through the courts by their abusers. You cannot reform domestic abuse legislation without reforming how domestic abuse victims access justice.

“We must all be in solution mode. An ugly political fight serves no one’s interests. I am meeting with the Justice Minister about this situation and I will continue to work with those who have first-hand experience of this intolerable abuse.

“A loophole in the law that would have allowed abusers to continue to exercise control over their victims was identified and work has been undertaken to close it. This is the worst possible outcome for those who need the additional support that this bill would have delivered.

“I also find it extremely distasteful to compare this situation to RHI. Victims of domestic abuse need access to legal aid to protect themselves from financial ruin at the hands of abusive partners. It is in no way comparable to those who burned wood pellets for personal financial gain.

“The SDLP is committed to passing legislation that will meet the needs of victims and survivors of abuse. We will work with all parties to see that happen.”

MIL OSI United Kingdom