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Cross Border Conference on Coercive Control takes place in Letterkenny

December 17, 2019

Event attended by 375 professionals from Tusla, An Garda Siochana, PSNI and other statutory and community partner organisations.

Wednesday 11th December 2019:  The Clanree Hotel, Letterkenny was the venue for a major cross border conference today focussing on the impact of coercive control.

The conference was a collaborative initiative between the CAWT cross border MACE Project, which is funded by the EU’s INTERREG VA programme, and Donegal Children and Young People’s Services Committee and was supported by Donegal Domestic Violence Service, An Garda Siochana and Tusla.

Coercive control is a persistent pattern of controlling, coercive and threatening behaviour including all or some forms of domestic abuse. On the 1st of January 2019 the Domestic Violence Act 2018 came into effect in Ireland, improving the protections available to victims of domestic violence under both the civil and criminal law. Under the Act a new law was introduced making coercion of a spouse, civil partner or intimate partner a criminal offence. Those convicted of coercion can face up to five years in jail but the main protections available under the Act are safety and barring orders.

Pictured from left to right: Ann Timony Meehan ( CYPSC Coordinator); Clive Beatty ( Supt & District Commander PSNI):  Garda Donna Campbell; Aisling Gillen ( Regional Director TUSLA);  Donna Mc Gee (MACE – Multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences Coordinator)

Key note speakers at the conference included:
Michelle Alonso, Fermanagh Women’s Aid; Superintendent Clive Beatty District Commander-PSNI; Marie Brown, Director, Foyle Women’s Aid; Detective Sergeant Laura Sweeney, An Garda Síochána; Dr Marie Hainsworth, Manager, Donegal Domestic Violence Service; Janique Burden, Principal Social Worker, Tusla

The event was MC’ed by Fergal Landy, Regional Implementation Manager for Prevention, Partnership and Family Support, Tusla.


Pictured back row (l to r): Shauna Hawes, CAWT MACE Project; Marie Brown, Director, Foyle Women’s Aid; Clive Beatty, Superintendent and District Commander, Police Service of Northern Ireland; Luke Hart Speaker & Survivor; Fergal Landy, Regional Implementation Manager for Prevention, Partnership and Family Support, Tusla West;  Michelle Alonso, Training Co-ordinator, Fermanagh Women’s Aid; Dr Marie Hainsworth, Manager, Donegal Domestic Violence Service and Donna McGee, CAWT MACE Project.

Front row (l to r): DS Laura Sweeney – Domestic Homicide Review Unit, An Garda Síochána; Janique Burden, Principal Social Worker, Tusla; and Deirdre McDaid, Project Manager, CAWT MACE Project.

Speaking about the event, Deirdre McDaid, MACE Project said “Events like this allow us to work together with our partners from both sides of the border to share learning and best practise when it comes to preventing, identifying and responding to domestic violence, and coercive control in particular. Coercive control is a very important and complex issue, and we need to work in partnership to respond appropriately and ensure better outcomes for families and children.”

Gerry Hone, Area Manager, Tusla, said: “Today’s conference is an opportunity to highlight the impact of coercive control not only on adult victims but also on children, who are often the hidden victims. Tusla staff regularly intervene in such situations where children can suffer serious emotional abuse as they live in an environment of constant fear and insecurity. The conference helped bring some focus to their plight. We will continue to work with our partners in this area to ensure that children and families are supported.”

Dr. Marie Hainsworth, manager of Donegal Domestic Violence Service said: “It is very important to remember that all victims can be impacted differently by Coercive Control. There is no such thing as a “typical victim. Through our service we have seen that a parent and their children may all interpret this in different ways, and therefore we need to be able to tailor our responses to each individual’s needs. A multi-agency response is vital in achieving this.”

For more information on coercive control, visit to find the service closest to you or call the National Freephone Helpline on 1800 341 900.

– ENDS –

For media queries please contact:  / 087 6348373

Photos will be issued by:
Clive Wasson-, 074 912 7679 / 086 2221024

Representatives from Tusla, MACE Project and Gloria House Donegal Domestic Violence Service will be available on the day for comment.

Notes to the Editor

  • The CAWT MACE project partners are the HSE, Tusla – Child and Family Agency, Western Health and Social Care Trust; Southern Health and Social Care Trust; Public Health Agency, and Health and Social Care Board.
  • The CAWT MACE Project has received grant funding totalling €5.01 million and is funded through the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body, and match funded by the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government with support from the Scottish Government