Ireland ratifies Istanbul Convention on protecting women from violence

Government gathered at a special Cabinet meeting for International Women's Day. Photo: Sam Boal /

Ireland has ratified the Istanbul Convention today which aims to prevent and combat domestic violence and violence against women.

The Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan made the announcement following a special Government meeting held to mark International Women’s Day.

The Convention is an international legal instrument which requires criminalising or legally sanctioning different forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, sexual harassment and psychological violence.

Ireland signed the Convention in November 2015, but the Government said that pieces of legislation and other actions needed to be carried out before formal ratification could take place.

These were identified in an action plan in October 2015 and included in the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence which was published in January 2016.

The Strategy provides for the training of public sector officials, the implementation of the Victims Directive and the enactment of legislation such as the Victims of Crime Act 2017 and the Domestic Violence Act 2018.

The recent enactment of the Criminal Law (Extraterritorial Jurisdiction) Act 2019 was the final legal action needed so that today’s ratification could go ahead.

Formal ratification took place at a ceremony at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg this morning.

“Domestic and sexual violence can have devastating consequences for victims as well as society as a whole," Minister Flanagan said.

"Ratifying the Convention delivers on a Government commitment and sends an important message that Ireland does not tolerate such violence. That message is all the more appropriate given that today is International Women’s Day.”

Ratification does not mean the end of our efforts. The Government will continue to work in providing protections to victims of domestic and sexual violence and holding perpetrators to account.

"The prevalence of this violence means we cannot lessen our efforts in this regard. Rather ratification signals a renewal of our commitments," he said.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission welcomed the announcement saying it will be a positive "spur to press forward on legislative and policy developments to see a comprehensive and coordinated response to violence against women and domestic violence".

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