Government advise 2km restriction does not apply to domestic violence survivors seeking assistance
It comes the National Public Health Emergency Team are expected to extend current lockdown restrictions.
By Clodagh Meaney
The Irish Government have advised that the 2km restriction in place amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak does not apply to domestic violence survivors seeking assistance.
Under current guidelines, the public is advised not to travel further than 2km from their homes unless under strict circumstances such as food shopping, caring for a family member or to attend work in an essential service.
During today's government briefing regarding the current health crisis, they advised that the movement of those seeking assistance or access to services was not restricted.
"We have spoken previously about concerns in relation to an increase in the incidence of Domestic Abuse in times of crisis," the briefing document states.
"At a time when we have all been asked to stay home, we are very conscious that, for victims of domestic abuse, home may not be a safe place."
"The government wishes to reassure victims of domestic abuse that support is still available despite COVID-19."
The document highlighted to those at risk to domestic abuse that:
frontline support services are still available
An Garda Síochána is prioritising response to domestic abuse
other services like the Courts and the Legal Aid Board are ready to offer support where needed
"And any restrictions on movement (the 2 kilometre rule) do not apply to a person trying to avoid risk of harm or seeking to access essential services."
"Information on services and supports for victims is being made available through gov.ie," the document concluded.
It comes as An Garda Síochána launched Operation Faoisimh at the beginning of April as part of measures to protect and support victims of domestic abuse during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The operation is a proactive initiative, commencing as part of An Garda Síochána community engagement response to COVID-19, designed to ensure victims of domestic abuse are supported and protected in this extraordinary time.
The initiative will utilise the Garda Victim Services Offices nationwide to facilitate phone contact with previous victims of domestic abuse to ascertain any existing issues of concern and to ensure the protection of families. Any concerns will be immediately responded to by An Garda Síochána.
Gardaí say there has been a recorded a year on year increase in the reporting of Domestic abuse incidents between 2019/ 2020 of approximately 16%, and as of April 1st have not recorded a significant increase in Domestic Abuse incidents since the introduction of COVID-19 Public Health Measures.
Detective Chief Superintendent Declan Daly, Garda National Protective Services Bureau stated: "I am conscious and aware that victims of Domestic Abuse can feel afraid and concerned at this time and I wish to assure those experiencing such abuse that An Garda Síochána are available and willing to assist you in this difficult time."
"The Covid-19 outbreak has not diminished our service and we are committed to your protection," he explained.
"If you are a victim of abuse or you know of a family member or friend who is a victim of such abuse, that information is important to us and I ask that you make contact with An Garda Síochána."
Mr. Daly urged that if you require urgent assistance or support, to contact 999 or 112.
Women's Aid have issued advice recommending that people vulnerable to abuse carry a charged mobile phone with them at all times and in emergencies contact the Gardaí.