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May 11 1999

Women's Aid calls for more changes following first time prosecution.

Women's Aid acknowledges the importance of the Court's serious response to the horrific crimes perpetrated by Colin McDonald as part of the campaign to address the issue of domestic violence in Northern Ireland.  

In particular, it is heartening to see recognition and acknowledgement of the crime of destruction of the unborn child for the first time in Northern Ireland.  Despite research that clearly shows the link between pregnancy and the onset of violence in relationships, hundreds of women have suffered this pain, grief and loss in silence and without redress.  

It is our hope that this case will send a message of encouragement to women and act as a serious deterrent to violent men.  Women's Aid has been campaigning for many years for improved responses to domestic violence from all agencies including the judiciary.  New measures under The Family Homes and Domestic Violence (NI) Order are one step on the road to greater protection of women and their children who have suffered violence in the home.                                                                              

Our thoughts and hopes are with Michelle and her family as they try to come to terms with the trauma of this entire ordeal.   A particular difficulty for the family was the protracted time it has taken to complete the prosecution.  Many women are deterred by the thought of enduring years of uncertainty due to this lengthy process. This case is also notable for allowing a key witness to give evidence by video link.  This acknowledges the special needs of a case such as this.  We hope that all agencies concerned will continue to improve their response to vulnerable victims of domestic violence. 

In conclusion we now urge the Attorney General to respond strongly to the callousness and lack of remorse demonstrated by Mr. McDonald in Court.  

- Ends - 

Notes to the Editor 

·        Domestic Violence affects as many as one in every four women in Northern Ireland.  Most incidents of domestic violence are perpetrated upon women by current or previous male partners. 

·        In 1998, 8 women were killed as a result of domestic violence. 

·        90% of domestic violence complaints to the RUC are made by women. 

·        Over 15,000 women contacted Women’s Aid in Northern Ireland between 1997 and 1998.  Over 900 women and almost 1,500 children stayed in refuge accommodation across Northern Ireland during those 12 months. 

·        A government policy document entitled Tackling Domestic Violence outlines the issue of domestic violence and the response from statutory and voluntary agencies.

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