Longford-Westmeath TD hits out over claims vulnerable victims forced to pay €130 towards legal aid

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Longford/Westmeath TD Robert Troy

Fianna Fáil TD for Longford Westmeath, Robert Troy has said the minimum contribution payment towards civil legal aid when making a domestic violence related application to the District Court, should be waived.

Commenting on reports last week, Troy said “Some 11,000 incidents of domestic violence are reported in Ireland annually, yet only few result in arrest or conviction.”

Last year alone, leading charity, Women's Aid received almost 17,000 calls relating to domestic violence or abuse, according to Troy, who added that the last Government more than doubled the minimum contribution payment from €50 to €130.

Victims of domestic violence are required to make this payment if they wish to have legal representation through the Legal Aid Board, which puts an unbearable burden on these people at an already very sensitive time.

“At present, there is a minimum 33 week wait just to be assessed for eligibility for Legal Aid at the Longford Free Legal Aid Centre,” said Troy.

“This often means that women who have suffered domestic violence are without legal advice when engaging with the Gardaí and judicial system.

"Any cost to proceedings causes further stress for any vulnerable person trying to gain refuge from a violent domestic situation but particularly when a former partner can afford to pay for legal representation privately.

“During a time when more focus needs to be placed on supporting the victims of domestic abuse and sexual crime in Ireland, increased measures must be put in place to offer protection.

"Fees when a domestic violence application is being made should be waived to guarantee legal representation for victims,” concluded Troy.

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