Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:45 am on 22nd March 2022.
I wish to express genuine regret to the victims of domestic violence for whom the passage of the Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act 2021 came too late. That is the shameful legacy of three lost years without a functioning Assembly. To those people, I can only apologise.
It is hard, therefore, to fathom why, yet again, we are without an Executive, after they were restored just two years ago. The long overdue and increasingly urgent strategy to tackle violence against women and girls has been delayed as a result of further stalemate and stand-off.
I will keep my remaining remarks on the motion brief. The purpose of the statutory rule is to enable the new domestic abuse offence convictions, as well as current convictions for all other offences for which there is a domestic abuse aggravator, to be released as part of the Access NI disclosure process.
The statutory rule is essential to ensure that children and vulnerable people are protected. It does so by providing potential employees with details of convictions of a domestic abuse offence and non-court disposals of a domestic abuse offence, enabling those to be shared with a potential employer, who will, of course, be making recruitment decisions.
I thank the Justice Minister for tabling the motion, which introduces further protections for the vulnerable in our communities. It comes in addition to the Minister having, in this short mandate, shown commitment and paid particular attention to the issue of domestic violence. She should be commended for her determination and congratulated for those achievements.
On behalf of Alliance, I support the motion.