Wife killer back in court over domestic violence as ICTU calls for ‘abuse disclosure’ law

1,510 Mid Ulster people were victims of domestic abuse in 2015
1,510 Mid Ulster people were victims of domestic abuse in 2015

On the very day a convicted wife-killer appeared at Dungannon Court accused of assaulting his new partner, the father of a woman murdered by her ex called for the implementation of Clare’s Law in Northern Ireland.

Michael Brown lost his daughter, Clare Wood, to a violent partner in Manchester in 2006, but following her death led the Clare’s Law campaign to bring a Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme into law.

And it was implemented in England, Scotland and Wales.

Now he is supporting a motion at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in Derry to have the same law rolled out here.

It means anyone with concerns about a family member, friend or associate’s partner can ask police if they have previously been convicted of abuse within a relationship.

Perhaps welcome news for the 1,510 Mid Ulster people who were victims of violence in the home last year - a figure that is on the rise.

The PSNI responds to a domestic incident every 20 minutes, with six murders in the North having had a ‘domestic abuse motivation’ last year.

Michael Brown has backed the motion to secure the same rights for victims of domestic violence in Northern Ireland as those across the UK.

“George Appleton made a total nuisance of himself. But it was only after my daughter was murdered that we discovered his violent past,” he said.

“Clare was murdered on February 2, 2006. Her body lay for four days. We had to wait 26 months for the coroner’s inquest. There was a police investigation into the police investigation, Salford Council had an investigation and the IPCC had their own investigation.

“At the pre-coroner’s hearing I had three hours to ask questions. I asked questions about Appleton but this was at a time when data protection meant information about him could not have been shared. So, I did national interviews and then met a journalist called Michelle Livesey.

“We joined forces to create a campaign calling for a law to be created in honour of Clare’s memory to help protect other women again violent partners,” he added.

“Clare’s Law has since been rolled out in England, Scotland and Wales but not in Northern Ireland. I am delighted that Clare’s Law is being brought forward at the ICTU conference because awareness must be raised among women. I totally back the motion which will be raised at conference.”

Clare Moore, Equality Officer with ICTU, said: “Campaigning on the issue of domestic violence is very much a trade union issue and the ICTU has worked hard to lobby for the implementation of Clare’s Law in Northern Ireland.

“The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme is an important legislative protection which has been in force in other parts of the UK for quite some time so we welcome the Department of Justice’s move to consult on its introduction in Northern Ireland.

“This issue will be debated at the biennial policy setting conference of ICTU on Wednesday when delegates representing thousands of members will call for women in Northern Ireland to be afforded the same protection as granted to women in other parts of the UK.”

The Northern Ireland Committee (NIC) of the ICTU is the representative body for 34 trade unions with over 215,000 members across Northern Ireland. In membership terms it is the largest civil society organisation in Northern Ireland.