Northern Ireland

Domestic abuse charity to hear from expert speakers in Belfast

A domestic abuse charity will hear from expert speakers in Belfast this Friday in the hope of encouraging more women to speak out.

The annual conference for Belfast & Lisburn Women’s Aid is being held at Titanic Belfast, with the theme of ‘Silent Voices: What is not being said?’.

It follows the latest development of high-profile domestic abuse allegations against the ex-Derry GAA manager Rory Gallagher.

Mr Gallagher stepped down earlier this month after his estranged wife Nicola Gallagher claimed she was the victim of domestic abuse for more than 24 years.

Police on both sides of the border have since made-contact with the alleged victim.

Mr Gallagher denies the accusations and last year the Public Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence to secure a reasonable prospect of conviction.

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PSNI and Gardai contact Nicola Gallagher after domestic abuse claims

Those speaking at Friday’s event will include domestic abuse campaigner David Challen, who previously campaigned to free his mother Sally Challen after a landmark appeal in 2019.

She had initially been found guilty of murdering her controlling husband before her sentence was reduced to manslaughter in recognition of the decades of abuse and controlling behaviour she suffered.

Also appearing will be Sunday Times bestselling author and CEO of VictimFocus, Dr Jessica Taylor, and the award-winning domestic abuse expert Dr Emma Katz, whose work has influenced policy and professional practice in the UK and globally.

Kelly Andrews, CEO of Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid, said she was delighted to welcome the panel.

“In Northern Ireland we have made some progress to tackle domestic abuse with new laws to better protect victims. However, the reality is that women are still being murdered, we still have massive under reporting of domestic abuse,” she said.

“For woman who do report abuse, the criminal justice system can be slow, laborious, and even harrowing.

“We can do better. Women’s Aid have been calling for a probably funded ‘End Violence and Women and Girl Strategy’ to deliver generational change and work towards ending domestic abuse.”