O’Neill and Sugden continue to champion the needs of all victims of domestic and sexual violence

Date published: 28 November 2016


Minister of Health Michelle O’Neill and Justice Minister Claire Sugden have co-chaired the Inter-Ministerial Group on Domestic and Sexual Violence which met today to re-affirm the Executive’s commitment to tackling domestic and sexual violence and abuse.

Health Minister Michelle O’Neill commented: “I welcome the convening of the Inter-Ministerial Group on Domestic and Sexual Violence and I am pleased to co-chair this Group with the Justice Minister.”

“We all know domestic and sexual violence and abuse can affect anyone in this society, and yet it still tends to be an unspoken, or even a taboo subject.  This violence and abuse not only impacts the victim but can also ripple out to the wider family circle and friends.  

“A societal change is required and I know this will not be achieved by government working in isolation.  I encourage all stakeholders to partner with government in this task to ensure victims are supported and protected and perpetrators are held to account.” 

Minister Sugden commented: “I too very much welcome today’s Inter-Ministerial meeting and the opportunity it provides to engage with Executive colleagues as part of government’s ongoing efforts to address domestic and sexual violence in Northern Ireland.” 

“The five strands of the ‘Stopping Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse’ Strategy provide a platform upon which the Executive will tackle the multi-faceted nature of these issues in a systematic and holistic way.   

“As Justice Minister, I want to ensure victims are empowered to report these crimes and ensure that they receive the support they need when they take that first brave step.  I also want to send out a clear and resounding message that these crimes are abhorrent and unacceptable and that is why I have committed to legislating for a new domestic abuse offence in Northern Ireland.” 

The group was convened to coincide with the international ‘16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign’, which runs from 25 November to 10 December 2016. 

The ’16 Days’ international campaign serves as a catalyst to galvanise action to end violence against women and girls encourage discussion about these important matters.  The more open these discussions are throughout society, the more likely it will be that victims are encouraged to disclose and seek the support and protection they deserve.  

The government funds a 24 hour domestic and sexual violence helpline with highly trained staff and volunteers who support victims to enable disclosure and signpost them to appropriate follow-on services.  

The manager of the helpline delivered a presentation to the group focusing on the advice, information and support made available to victims and their families.

The Ministers commended the helpline staff and volunteers who provide victims and their families with immediate support and signposting to appropriate follow-on services.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The ‘Stopping Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse Strategy’ was published in March 2016 and the associated Year-one implementation Plan was published in May 2016.
  2. The Strategic vision is to have a society in which domestic and sexual violence is not tolerated in any form; to have effective tailored preventative and responsive services; and to support all victims and hold perpetrators to account.
  3. The ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’ Campaign is a world-wide programme to galvanise action to end violence against women and girls.  The ‘16 Days’ run from the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 Nov) to Human Rights Day (10 Dec). This year’s campaign will be the 25th Anniversary. 
  4. The Inter-Ministerial Group will be convened on a bi-annual basis.  Membership of the Group includes.
    • Minister O’Neill,  DoH (co-chair)
    • Minister Sugden, DoJ (co Chair)
    • Minister Givan, DfC
    • Minister Weir, DE
    • Minister Ó Muilleoir, DoF
    • Junior Minister Fearon, TEO
    • Junior Minister Ross, TEO
  5. The Group will promote cross-departmental cooperation and ensure that Action Plans arising from the Stopping Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse Strategy are developed and implemented.
  6. The Government ‘24hr Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline’ is currently managed by Women’s Aid Federation NI and is jointly funded by DoH, DoJ and DfC (NIHE).
  7. Media enquiries to DoH Information Office on 028 9052 0571, or out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.  Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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