Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Justice, Martin Kenny has described an 87 per cent increase in the number of domestic violence cases referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions as “deeply concerning”.
The DPP, Claire Loftus, was referring to the number of files submitted to her office relating to domestic violence or a breach of a court order.
Speaking at the Annual National Prosecutor's Conference today, the Director of Public Prosecutions said there has been 684 files related to domestic violence or the breach of a court order submitted already in 2020.
That represents a massive increase on the 464 that were received in the whole of 2019.
Claire Loftus said the sheer number of files submitted to her office since the pandemic began in total, is up by over a fifth.
The Director called this "extraordinary" but isn't sure if it will continue into 2021.
It comes as Ireland’s first trial conviction for coercive control concluded last week.
A 52-year-old man was convicted of coercive control, intimidation and multiple assault charges following a 21-day trial.
It was the first time a jury has found anyone guilty of coercive control since the offence was introduced under the Domestic Violence Act.
Deputy Kenny said these figures are deeply concerning.
“There appears to have been a considerable spike in the number of domestic violence related cases referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions,” he said. “Earlier this week, new figures from Safe Ireland also revealed that on average seven women and children per day are being turned away from domestic violence refuges due to lack of space.
“Those working in the sector had warned at the beginning of the pandemic that lockdown restrictions could result in an increase in domestic violence incidents due to victims becoming trapped at home with abusers.
“The Government must ensure that sufficient support systems are in place to ensure that victims get the support that they need to leave an abusive situation and to live safely.
“We need to see an increase in spaces available at domestic violence shelters, so that those fleeing abuse are never turned away. "