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*Photograph: John Mangan

Gardaí in Clare have responded to less domestic disputes and breaches of barring orders this year.

Figures released this week detailed that there were 60 breaches of barring orders in Clare so far in 2021 compared with 89 for the same period last year, a drop of 33 percent.

A reduction of 27 percent has been observed for domestic disputes with 308 instances dealt with this year and 423 in 2020.

Women’s Aid in their annual impact report for 2020 highlighted a 43 per cent increase in contacts with its services when compared to 2019. The charity said that COVID-19 and associated restrictions had an “unprecedented and exhausting impact” on victims of domestic abuse.

Domestic violence in Ireland was made more visible, the report outlined. Last year, Women’s Aid support workers heard more than 30,000 disclosures of domestic violence, including coercive control.Almost 24,900 disclosures were of abuse against women and nearly 6,000 related to child abuse in the context of domestic violence.

Sarah Benson, Women’s Aid’s chief executive, said the figures highlighted in the report were “only the tip of the iceberg” when it came to the true numbers of people suffering domestic abuse. “One in four women in Ireland are targeted during their lifetime by current or former partners, a shocking one in five will have been abused by the time they are just 25 years old – many for the first time as teenagers in their earliest intimate relationships”.

Clare TD, Violet-Anne Wynne (SF) queried at Monday’s meeting of the Clare Joint Policing Committee (JPC) why Clare had a decrease in domestic violence incidents “when there was an increase nationally”.

“I don’t know why Clare is lower, we wanted to show a greater increase in reporting of incidents to show a lack of fear wasn’t there,” Chief Supt Seán Colleran replied. “If the figures were higher we would say it was good that people were reporting it. I would be looking at it positively, by and large,” he added.

Reports of sexual assaults have increased by 29 percent this year up from 17 to 22 this year, the Chief Supt confirmed. “People should never be afraid to report anything to us, we have confidential processes,” he said.

Thirteen less public order offences have occurred this year, down from 175 to 162, this was linked to the closure of licenced premises according to the Chief Supt. “A slight increase” for assault causing harm and minor assault has been recorded this year with 36 and 160 incidents dealt with respectively.

“Minor assaults some are to do with drinking at home. The lockdown has resulted in people being home that otherwise would not be and that has caused problems,” Colleran added.

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