Lagan Valley MLA Paul Givan has expressed disappointment at the Justice Minister's decision not to proceed with the Further Consideration stage of the Domestic Abuse and Family Proceedings Bill.
The Minister cited an amendment tabled by the Justice Committee in relation to Legal Aid as the reason for not bringing forward the Bill for debate to the Assembly today.
Commenting afterwards Mr Givan, who Chairs the Assembly's Justice Committee said.
"It is deeply disappointing that the Minister has decided not to move forward with the Domestic Abuse Bill today, but my disappointment is nothing compared to what will be felt by those who are most impacted by the scourge of domestic abuse.
This Bill is vitally important and both I and the Minister share a common desire to see the information sharing, training for the justice system, and issues such as Domestic Abuse Protection Orders progressed. Alongside that however, the Justice Committee tabled Amendment 15 which relates to Legal Aid.
This is not an amendment tabled by me as an individual MLA, but on behalf of the Justice Committee who supported it going forward. It is a fundamental part of our democratic process that Committees have the opportunity to scrutinse legislation and to table amendments they feel will can strengthen the Bill being proposed.
If the Minister has concerns, then she would have had an opportunity to explain those during the debate and persuade MLAs not to support it. The ability to persuade others on the strength of the argument is at the very core of parliamentary debate.
The Minister should move swiftly to bring this legislation back to the Assembly. Those suffering domestic abuse and the many people who strive to help victims. They must get an answer as to when the Minister intends to bring this vital legislation back before the Assembly for debate."