University of Limerick
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Still a private matter? Evaluating the Irish State’s response to domestic abuse

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-09, 07:36 authored by SUSAN LEAHYSUSAN LEAHY

The Domestic Violence Act 2018 (DVA 2018) reformed Irish law on domestic abuse, providing some welcome advancements on the preceding law in this area (eg criminalizing coercive control). However, while the Act represents an improvement on the previous legislation, there remains an orientation towards private, civil law responses to domestic abuse, rather than a promotion of proactive State-led responses which recognize domestic abuse as a public wrong. Consequently, this article argues that the so-called ‘public–private dichotomy’ traditionally associated with domestic abuse is still evident in Ireland. The article begins with an analysis of evidence of the public–private dichotomy in operation in Irish domestic abuse law and policy. Prevailing efforts to recognize domestic abuse as a public wrong are then examined via a discussion of the provisions of the DVA 2018 and an evaluation of the current response of the criminal justice system to domestic abuse. This examination highlights shortcomings in Irish legislation, policy, and practice, which result in domestic abuse still being treated primarily as a private problem. Consequently, the article concludes by suggesting law and policy reforms that would promote a more effective recognition of domestic abuse as a public wrong which requires a proactive, State-led response. 



International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 37 (1),ebad008


Oxford University Press

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  • Law

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