On January 9, 2017, the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland collapsed. There are many ways in which this lack of functioning government effects people in Northern Ireland but domestic abuse victims, in particular, are hard hit.
Today, January 9, marks the second anniversary of the collapse of powersharing in Stormont, a collapse that has threatened the protections given to victims of domestic abuse in Northern Ireland.
Eleven laws designed to make psychological abuse illegal in a relationship have been passed in the other parts of the United Kingdom - England, Scotland and Wales - but the lack of a functioning government in Belfast has meant the laws in Northern Ireland have not been updated, leaving victims without the same protection.
The Northern Ireland government collapsed in January 2017 over a renewable heating scandal. Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader and then Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster, who had been in charge of the department that oversaw the plan in question, did not stand down while an investigation was carried out and a bitter row erupted between the DUP and Sinn Féin.
In the following two years, the rift between the two largest parties, who are on either side of the nationalist/unionist divide, have constantly come to a stalemate in talks to resume government as the issues in questions widened to include other traditional disputes such as the rights afforded the Irish language and its speakers in the state.
Back in 2018, then Northern Ireland Minister of Justice Claire Sugden outlined draft legislation that would make coercive or controlling behavior in a relationship illegal but the collapse meant that the legislation was never brought to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The eleven laws are:
- Sharing sexually explicit images of you - either online or not.
- Restricting your access to money.
- Repeatedly putting you down.
- Stopping you from seeing friends or family.
- Scaring you.
- Threatening to reveal private things about you.
- Putting tracking devices on your phone.
- Being extremely jealous. This law means that if your partner persistently accuses you of cheating, for something as simple as looking at another person, it could constitute grounds for prosecution. Police in England state that “extreme jealousy, including possessiveness and ridiculous accusations of cheating” would all come under the legislation.
- Forcing you to obey their rules.
- Controlling what you wear.
- Forcing you to do things you do not want to do.
Do you believe power-sharing can return to Northern Ireland? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, below.
H/T: Derry Journal