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Chief Superintendent Derek Smart speaking at the Policing Authority meeting this afternoon. Po
policing authority

Domestic violence order was not served 'for several weeks' because Garda was on annual leave

Paul Mageean, a member of the authority, said the matter was raised with him while meeting community representatives yesterday.

A POLICING AUTHORITY meeting has heard that a domestic violence court order could not be served “for a period of several weeks” because the Garda that was due to serve it was on annual leave. 

The public meeting between the Authority and the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was held in Limerick today. 

Paul Mageean, a member of the Authority, said it had held meetings with local community representatives and with local gardaí over the last few weeks, and had yesterday met with representatives in Limerick.

Addressing the meeting, Mageean said he had previously spoken to Garda Commissioner about “a degree of inconsistency around domestic violence orders, the service of such orders” and the knowledge of individual gardaí around the orders.

“Similarly, we did receive such concerns in our engagement with local groups yesterday morning,” he said.

“One example of which was that an order, which it was deemed by the court should have been served in person, wasn’t served for a period of several weeks because the Garda member who was due to serve it was on annual leave.”

He said processes have now been put in place to ensure that a similar incident does not happen again. However, he added that concern around court orders has arisen in several divisions. 

Limerick Chief Superintendent Derek Smart said the service of court orders is something the division “is very much aware of” and “we want to make sure everything is done properly in regard to that”.

“These are obviously civil orders that are being served and I certainly would have had a concern that I couldn’t monitor how they were being served because the old Limerick division would have been made up of a number of other districts before we moved into the new policing model,” he said.

Smart said the force in the division has met with the court service in Limerick and developed a memorandum of understanding. 

“[The memorandum] will establish that all domestic violence orders go to one email address, which will be monitored Monday to Friday. That order will then be given to a specific member who is working at the time and they have to come back and tell us that it has been served.”

A Section 21 order will then be issued that will support a prosecuting inspector in court to prove that the order has been served, and where it has not been served, Gardaí will be informed and it the then be given to the next officer, Smart continued.

“This is something that will certainly give me a lot more comfort in knowing that we’ve developed a system that we can probe into and make sure that it is working for the people that we’re serving.”


Mageean asked the Commissioner about whether training for officers in relation to domestic violence orders has been undertaken on a national basis. 

Colm Noonan, chief superintendent at the Garda National Protective Services Bureau, said there has been specific training delivered across the organisation for the service of domestic abuse orders. 

“While they’re civil orders, An Garda Síochána have a central role working with the court service in the service of them. At a national level, we in the Bureau are directly working with the court service to identify the best method to serve those orders,” he said.

“That may, in the first instance be the court service, or as Derek has identified, here in Limerick, it will be garda members serving them. There is ongoing work to make sure that’s replicated across the country.”

Noonan said members are certified as having completed training in relation to the service of orders and there is checks on the training as it’s completed.

“It’s not just a case of doing it and not being able to say I’ve done it and done it successfully. That is checked.”

Last year, the Policing Authority’s 2023 Assessment of Policing Performance report also highlighted the issue of the enforcement of domestic violence orders. 

The report also noted that the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) “recently identified a number of areas for improvement in the response to domestic violence and Ireland’s implementation of the ‘Istanbul’ Convention”.

It said the Authority’s experience of engagement across the country with victim’s organisations is consistent with GREVIO’s findings.

“There is particular concern that breaches are not always policed and that there are delays in the servicing of orders which leave victims in a vulnerable position,” the report read.

“Domestic abuse orders are vital to the safety of victims of domestic violence including by prohibiting or limiting certain behaviours and achieving physical distance between a perpetrator and a victim.

“The Domestic Violence Act 2018, makes a breach of an order an offence liable on summary conviction to a class B fine or to imprisonment of a maximum period of 12 months, or both. It is vital for the safety of victims and consistency of service, that these issues are addressed.”

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