SDLP Justice Spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin has expressed concern after the Executive Office confirmed that progress on the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy could be delayed due to the lack of an Executive.
In a response to party representatives following a meeting in January with the Executive Office, the Permanent Secretary confirmed that “senior officials may be able to take decisions such as this relating to an Executive strategy but must balance the public interest in doing so with that in leaving the decision for the return of elected representatives”.
Ms McLaughlin said:
“The Ending Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy is one of many pressing issues that is being put at risk by the DUP boycott of the Executive, yet it could not be more urgent. Thousands of women still suffer as a result of domestic abuse and violence, yet it has been allowed to become normalised and many women and girls still suffer in silence.
“There have been numerous recent high-profile examples across these islands that show how urgent it is that this strategy is progressed and funded. Until we face up to this as a society we are never going be able to change it. How can women have confidence in the system that is supposed to protect them from these horrific incidents when we don’t even have a plan on paper on how to do so?
“I am confident that the relevant officials in the Executive Office will take into account the importance of the strategy when deciding whether it can be progressed without Ministers. It is utterly shameful that democratically elected politicians are not able to roll their sleeves up and progress this ourselves, something of this importance should not be left to officials who are themselves operating in a restricted capacity.”