Protection against domestic violence in Ireland

Domestic violence is the use of physical or emotional force or threat of physical force, including sexual violence, in an intimate relationship. As well as physical violence, domestic violence can also involve:

• Emotional abuse

• The destruction of property

• Controlling behaviour such as isolation from friends, family and other potential sources of support

• Threats to others including children

• Stalking

• Control over access to money, personal items, food, transportation and communication

The offence of coercive control of a spouse, civil partner or intimate partner also came into force under the Domestic Violence Act 2018. Coercive control is a pattern of intimidation, humiliation and controlling behaviour that causes fear of violence or serious distress that has a substantial impact on the victim’s day-to-day activities.

Under domestic violence legislation, the main kinds of protection available through the Courts are safety orders and barring orders. 

What is a safety order?

A safety order is an instruction from the court which stops the person accused of abusive behaviour (the respondent) from committing further violence or threats of violence. The respondent does not have to leave the home. If the person is not living with you, the safety order prohibits (bans) them from watching or being near your home and following or communicating (including electronically) with you or a dependent person such as a child. A safety order can last up to five years.

People in an intimate relationship are also able for apply for a safety order. Previously, couples had to cohabit (live together) to be able to get a safety order, but this is no longer the case. The following people can apply for a safety order:

• Spouses and civil partners

• Parents with a child in common

• Partners in an intimate relationship including cohabitants (a couple living together) and dating partners (a couple not living together)

• Parents of an abusive child if that child is over 18

• People residing with the respondent in a non-contractual relationship, such as two relatives living together

• Former partners are also able to apply, for example, a former spouse or cohabitant.

What is a protection order?

Between the time of making an application for a safety order (or barring order) and the court’s determination (decision), there may be reasonable grounds for believing that the safety and welfare of you or of a dependent person is at risk. If so, the court can grant a protection order to prohibit (ban) the person accused of the abusive behaviour from:

• Using or threatening to use violence

• If the person is not living with you, watching or being near your home

• Following or communicating with you or a dependent person

A protection order is temporary and only effective until the court hearing for the application for a safety order (or barring order). It is sometimes called a ‘temporary safety order’ because it gives the same protection as a safety order but for a shorter time period.

What is a barring order?

A barring order requires the person accused of abusive behaviour to leave the home and prohibits (bans) the person from entering the home. The order also prohibits the person from:

• Further violence or threats of violence

• Watching or being near your home, or

• Following or communicating (including electronically) with you or a dependent person

A barring order can last up to three years.

The following people can apply for a barring order:

• Spouses and civil partners

• Cohabitants (a couple living together) who live in an intimate relationship (the applicant must satisfy the property test, that is, they must have an equal or greater interest in the property than the respondent)

• Parents when the abuser is a non-dependent child

What is an interim barring order?

Between the time of making an application for a barring order and the court’s determination (decision), there may be reasonable grounds for believing that the safety and welfare of you or of a dependent person is at risk. If so, the court can grant a protection order (see above) or an interim barring order. An interim barring order is a temporary, immediate short-term order. It can last for a maximum of 8 working days. It requires the person accused of violent or abusive behaviour to leave the home where there is an immediate risk of significant harm to you or a dependent person (and a protection order would not give sufficient protection).

You can apply for an interim barring order while you wait for the court to hear your full application for a full barring order. Both applications can be made at the same time.

What is an emergency barring order?

An emergency barring order requires the person accused of violent or abusive behaviour to leave the home, and prohibits them from entering the home. This is an immediate order where there is reasonable grounds to believe there is an immediate risk of significant harm to you or a dependent person.

Unlike an interim barring order, the applicant does not have to satisfy the property test to be able to get an emergency barring order. This means the person applying for the order does not need to own, co-own or have their name on the lease of the property. An emergency barring order can last for a maximum of 8 working days. It prohibits the same behaviours as a barring order.

When the eight-day time limit ends, you may have to wait for one month to apply for another. In exceptional circumstances, a judge can waive or ignore this one-month wait time.

How do you apply for a safety or barring order?

To get a safety or barring order you must attend a District Court hearing. While you are waiting for the court to hear your application, the court can give you an immediate order.

In an emergency situation, the Gardaí can request that the Courts Service arrange a special out-of-hours sitting of the District Court for someone looking for an interim barring order, protection order or emergency barring order.

A safety order or barring order can be renewed by applying for a further order before the previous one expires.

There is a list of factors that the court can consider when deciding on an application for a domestic violence order (safety, protection or barring order). This list includes:

• History of violence by the respondent towards the applicant or any dependent person

• Increase in severity or frequency of violence towards the applicant or their children

• Exposure of children to violence inflicted by the respondent on the applicant or other child

• History of animal cruelty

• Substance abuse (including alcohol), by the respondent, the applicant or a dependent person

• The age and state of health (including pregnancy) of the applicant or any dependent person

What supports are
available for women experiencing domestic violence in West Cork?

West Cork Beacon (formerly West Cork Women Against Violence Project) offers free and confidential listening, information and support services for women experiencing domestic violence. Their office is based in Bantry and the telephone number is 1800 203 136

If you need further information about this topic or you would like information on other issues, you can drop in to the local Citizens Information Service in Bantry or telephone them on 0818 07 8390. They will be happy to assist you and if necessary arrange an appointment for you.

WEST CORK HELPLINE 0818 07 8390

The offices are staffed from 10am-5pm from Monday to Thursday and on Friday from 10am -4pm. Alternatively you can email on bantry@citinfo.ie or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie

WCP Staff

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