SDLP councillor Declan McAlinden has said that more must be done to tackle violence against women.
He was speaking ahead of introducing a motion to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council on Monday night.
The motion calls for improved service provision for victims of domestic violence and asks council to promote campaigns to address violence against women, ensure it has a modern anti-harassment policy in place and provides training for elected representatives and officers on the challenges faced by victims of harassment and violence.
It was seconded by SDLP councillor Gráinne O’Neill.
Councillor McAlinden said:
“The scourge of violence against women and girls is sadly far too prevalent in our society and if we’re ever going to eradicate it then we all must play our part by supporting women and ensuring that victims know help is out there. The murders of Natalie McNally and Alesia Nazarova have caused huge sadness in our community, left their families broken and highlighted the dangers that women face each and every day simply going about their lives. The unsolved murder of Laura Marshall almost seven years ago has also left an indelible mark on this area.
“The current situation will only improve if we challenge attitudes and send a clear message that violence against women and girls will not be tolerated. The lead on that has to come from Stormont and I want to see a restored Executive and Assembly in place to invest in support for victims. I also believe that council has an important role to play in spreading awareness and ensuring that we have policies in place to make sure that we do everything we can to protect people, while informing staff and representatives about the challenges victims face.”
Councillor O’Neill said:
“No woman should have to live in fear while simply going about their lives. We should be able to feel safe in our homes, at work or school, or on a night out with our friends. Several high-profile recent incidents have proved that this isn’t the case and that should be a wake-up call to people right across our society about how much work we have to do to tackle this issue.
“I believe every councillor should back tonight’s motion to show people that this council stands fully behind women and girls and will do everything in our power to support victims and educate people about these issues. This is not an issue that is going to be solved overnight, it will require long-term societal change, but unless we act now we will see more women forced to live in fear, while others lose their lives at the hands of abusers.”