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Access to cash vital in area of domestic abuse – McGuinness
Commissioner Mairead McGuinness

26 Sep 2023 / law society Print

Ready cash vital in domestic abuse cases – McGuinness

Speaking at the Law Society annual dinner (22 September), 2022/23 President Maura Derivan said the centenary celebrations to mark 100 years of women on the Roll of Solicitors was a significant milestone and a proud moment for all women.

President Derivan saluted the many distinguished female legal professionals in attendance at the annual dinner, which was animated by an immersive exhibition of pioneering women lawyers on the walls of the Presidents’ Hall, curated by the Law Society's Gayle Ralph.

President Derivan said that she was honoured and delighted to introduce guest speaker, European Commissioner Mairead McGuinness, who said that women need to see other women who are inspirational role models.

“In my life, in politics and in journalism, I always felt that if you gave back, you get more in return,” the commissioner said.

Those who enjoy democracy, freedom, and rule of law should remember that these values are not a given and need to be defended, she said.

While female solicitors have outnumbered males since 2015, that figure “hides the reality” that men still outnumber women at partner level, she stated.

The commissioner said that domestic violence was a hidden scourge in Irish society, with banking research suggesting that one in five young women do not have control over their own finances.

Those who work in the financial system must “watch out for signs of financial abuse because it's there and it does terrible things”, she said.

'Cash is really important'

“In the area of domestic abuse, access to cash is really important, because it's something that you can actually save a little of, and it's not traceable if you have a coercive or controlling partner,” she said.

The European Commissioner said she was pleased to be given a portfolio that had “weight and substance” when she was entrusted with financial services.

“Money matters hugely, it's very influential in how society evolves, and I think we've done good work around issues like financial inclusion and financial literacy,” she said.

Sustainable finance

In her work on sustainable finance, the commissioner said there is a move away from measuring companies on their productivity and returns on investment and towards examining how they treat the environment and tackle climate change.

The need for more carers in society also needs to be discussed, she said, given that demography means fewer and fewer people are available for this work.

“We all have needed care at some stage in our lives and this is a topic that I think needs a lot of discussion,” she said.

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