The national independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm in Ireland has said it is "deeply disappointed" by the domestic, sexual and gender-based violence strategy launched by the Government this week.

Alcohol Action Ireland has described the omission of alcohol as a risk factor for perpetrators and people who experience domestic abuse as "unhelpful".

It says that while alcohol and drugs can never be used as an excuse for domestic abuse, there is a danger by not mentioning them in the strategy of "sanitising people's lives".

Alcohol Action Ireland has said the failure to recognise the "complexity and overlapping issues" was perhaps due to them not fitting "neatly into boxes or departmental remits".

Its CEO Dr Sheila Gilheany said that in a country where so many people use alcohol harmfully, regulation policies must form part of any strategy seeking to prevent and curtail domestic abuse.

Prof Catherine Comiskey, who is a researcher and Chairperson of the Scientific Committee of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, said it was essential that the extenuating needs of women and families who use substances and experience violence in their homes are highlighted.

Assistant Professor in Addictions at the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin Professor Jo-Hanna Ivers, expressed disappointment at the lack of visibility for certain cohorts of women.

"The absence of a clear strategy for an integrated model of care and support forces women with complex needs to choose between accessing support for their substance use or their experience of domestic violence, resulting in many women never receiving support for either issue," she said.


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Alcohol Action Ireland welcomed the recognition in the strategy of children as victims in their own right.

The organisation added that bearing witness to domestic abuse is an adverse childhood experience that can cause problems into adulthood and that children must be supported when it occurs in their family.

It said that it looked forward to progressing an Operation Encompass style system of support - whereby schools are informed if gardaí are at a child's home and assist the child as needed.

It said this was an example of the clear cross agency-departmental thinking required in considering the issue of alcohol in domestic abuse.