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Campaigners Not Happy with Government’s New Domestic Abuse Bill



Domestic abuse bill

The government’s new domestic abuse bill did not go well with the campaigners as they claim it doesn’t go far enough to protect the victims.

The ministers are said to have introduced a huge array of new measures to protect domestic abuse victims. For the first time, new laws will create a legal definition of domestic abuse, to include economic abuse and control and manipulative abuse that isn’t physical.

According to the ministers, this landmark legislation will not allow victims to be cross-examined by abusers in the family court.

The domestic abuse bill will also create new powers to force perpetrators into behaviour-changing rehabilitation programmes and protect victims with special rights while they are due to be presented in the criminal trials. The draft bill will also set up a national “domestic abuse commissioner” that will improve the support for victims by introducing new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders.

The Home Office released a report estimating the economic and social cost of domestic abuse was £66bn in 2016/17. The new bill is expected to bring improvement.

Women’s Aid, a domestic violence charity, although welcomed the draft bill, but said it doesn’t deliver adequate money to the domestic violence services to address the issue at a larger scale.

Victims trying to escape their abuser are finding it difficult to find a free bed. According to the most recent figures, 60 percent of the victims do not get housed because of lack of space. Local authority spending on the victims looking for refuge has been vigorously cut from £31.2m in 2010 to £23.9m in 2017.

The government has also been criticised by the organisation for introducing special measures for the protection of domestic abuse victims only during criminal trials and not in the family courts.

“Although this new law is much welcomed, it alone will not protect survivors in the family courts and challenge the ‘contact at all costs’ approach by judges, which is putting children in danger,” Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid said. “We look forward to working with the government to introduce greater protections in the family courts for survivors, such as special measures to safeguard them in the courtroom, and ensure that children’s safety is put at the heart of all decisions made by the family courts.”

The bill also pledges to support children affected by domestic abuse by releasing a fund of £8m.

Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “Domestic abuse destroys lives and warrants some of the strongest measures at our disposal to deter offenders and protect victims.

“By pursuing every option available, to better support victims and bring more offenders to justice, we are driving the change necessary to ensure families never have to endure the pain of domestic abuse in silence.”

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Disappointed by May’s Brexit Handling, Conservative MPs Seek her Resignation



Conservative MPs

Amidst the continued talks over the Brexit deal that have been prevalent in the country, the Conservative MPs on Tuesday decided to come up with plans for Prime Minister Theresa May’s early resignation. The frequent delays in the Brexit deal have caused widespread commotion and anger among the people.

The senior conservatives in the meeting discussed whether to change the party rules to enable an early leadership challenge to May as she survived a vote of confidence by her MPs in December 2018. As per the rules of the party, there has to be a gap of 12 months in between casting another vote.

Under the current rules, May is safe until December. However, the 1922 committee is trying to reduce the period to six months, thereby adding to her political tensions. Around 70 Conservative MPs signed a petition for a meeting to discuss over the leadership and influence of the prime minister on the party. There are chances that May could face a vote of no confidence by June 12. 

The Conservative MPs along with a few Labour party members have criticized May for Brexit delay and her inappropriate way of handling the deal. Being unhappy with May’s development on the deal, Nigel Farage  grouped a New Brexit Party to attract the Conservative MPs, who have been calling for the prime minister’s resignation.

The members have wanted a new leader to challenge the EU to rewrite the withdrawal deal or to allow a no-deal Brexit in October. It has been widely noticed that Boris Johnson, former foreign secretary, has had the maximum support to succeed Theresa May, while many have been coordinating to avoid this situation.

In the wake of the demands for May’s resignation, a Tory MP familiar with Johnson’s campaign said, “They’re not going to push for her to go. They can’t see any advantage of her standing down now.”

The MPs have been asking May to resign, as the she had earlier pledged to leave her post if the Parliament approved her Brexit withdrawal agreement. Irrespective of the completion of the deal, the Conservative MPs are forcing May to resign.

As the meeting on Tuesday failed to reach any decision, more talks related to the change of rules could be expected this week.

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Lyra McKee: New IRA Apologises, Takes Blame for Journalist’s Death




The New IRA group on Monday took responsibility for the death of journalist Lyra McKee.

While wholeheartedly apologizing to her family and friends, the group’s statement in The Irish News quoted, “In the course of attacking the enemy, Lyra McKee was tragically killed while standing beside the enemy forces. The IRA offer our full and sincere apologies to the partner, family, and friends of Lyra McKee for her death.”

Apologies from the New IRA group came after Saoradh, an active hard-left Republican political party in the country associated with the New IRA group, tried to rationalise Thursday’s incident. While observing the riots in Derry’s Creggan Estate, McKee, an Irish journalist, got caught in the firing and was shot in the head by a masked gunman. She died after the incident.

The New IRA formed in 2012, is a union of members of the Real IRA and other smaller groups that aimed at reunifying Ireland by opposing British rule in the country. They accused the police of “provoking”, the riots which led to the gun attack, killing McKee.

McKee’s death recalled the Belfast Agreement also known as the Good Friday agreement, signed in between the UK and Irish governments in 1998 that marked the end of violence in the nation.

Friends and family members of the young journalist have been protesting since her death. Following the protests, Derry 1916 Commemoration Committee cancelled a planned Easter parade in the city on Saturday. Many women coated their hands with red paint to mark it on the republican slogans outside the building of Saoradh.

Women staining republican slogans with red paint outside the building of Saoradh

Jason Murphy, Detective Superintendent, claimed that there has been a “palpable sea change in the sentiment towards community policing” in support of the investigation. He said that the police and the Prosecution Service would take all the necessary steps for safety of their witnesses, who would appear as evidences for the trials.

Amidst the massive public response to the killing, McKee’s funeral would be held at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast on Wednesday.

While the New IRA offered their “full and sincere apologies”, the people in the country seemed to be discontent. Dolores Kelly, a member of SDLP Policing Board, was critical of the apology and asserted, “If they are truly remorseful they would end their campaign and pursue their objectives in a democratic manner and face the people accordingly.”

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Nigel Farage Criticises Labour Leave over Second Brexit Referendum



Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage, leader of the new Brexit party since 2019, aims for a “northern attack” on Labour leave voters. This is because he has never been in favour of the second Brexit referendum, believing that this would act as a “total insult” to the millions of Labour voters who voted Leave.

Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, asserted that the only way to respond to the challenges put forward by Farage was to call for a second referendum. Thereby, he asked his party’s support on this matter of contention. It came into notice that Watson’s main aim behind it was to pressurise the Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, so that the second referendum could become a subject of utmost importance in Brexit talks with Prime Minister Theresa May.

Watson claimed that Farage’s way includes a backward looking brand of politics that would offer no solution. He said, “Labour won’t defeat Farage by being mealy-mouthed and sounding as if we half agree with him.”

“We won’t beat him unless we can inspire the millions crying out for a different direction. We will not win if we sit on the fence about the most crucial issue that has faced our country for a generation,” he added.

Thus, while opposing Nigel Farage, he asserted that both the Leavers and the Remainers must be entitled to a confirmatory referendum for a final say.

A fundamental back up based on proper values, that would demonstrate the voice and needs of the citizens is required and the Labour party would become an important way out from this existing crisis. In order to bring new values and to do the best for the country, the Labour party has begun to unite for people’s vote. They believed that the addition of second Brexit referendum might influence Farage’s lead by 3 percent. 

Despite the poll results a week ago where Farage’s new Brexit party was seen to be leading with 27 percent, Jeremy Corbyn neglected his political stance as a “simple populism”.

While Watson mocks Farage’s way out of the Brexit issue as inconceivable, the latter accused the Leave Labours for changing their minds over the withdrawal deal.

Nigel Farage asserted, “My priority as leader is to go into the Labour heartlands. It’s my intention to go round south Wales, the Midlands, the North, and absolutely lay it out there, the extent to which they are being sold out [on Brexit] by Labour. I now intend to wholeheartedly target Labour lies and dishonesty in the weeks ahead.”

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Lyra McKee: Violence in Derry Leads to Death of the Journalist



Lyra McKee

Lyra McKee, one of the most acclaimed journalists of Northern Ireland, was allegedly shot dead by the activists of the dissident Republican group of the New IRA – that aims to oppose the British rule in the country.

Police has been looking for numerous suspects in relation to the death of McKee in the riots that broke out on Thursday. A group known as the New IRA “are likely to be the ones” responsible for her murder, said police.

In a hunt for weapons and ammunition, an intelligence-led operation took the law enforcement officials into Londonderry’s Creggan estate late on Thursday night. Violence broke out after police started raiding houses in Mulroy Park and Galliagh areas in Derry. More than 50 petrol bombs were thrown at the police and two vehicles were hijacked and set on fire.

Hamilton, a member of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said “I believe that this was orchestrated – orchestrated to a point that they just want to have violence and attack police.”

29-year-old McKee was a rising star in the field of investigative journalism and book publishing. She worked as an editor for California-based news site Mediagazer, a trade publication covering the media industry. She had received a number of honours in her lifetime and gained popularity for writing a heartbreaking and powerful letter to her 14-year-old self about growing up gay in a hateful environment in Belfast.

Her passion was to analyse the topics that were left behind by others and was a source of inspiration for other lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people, because of her views. She had written for many publications, including BuzzFeed, Private Eye, the Atlantic and Mosaic Science.

In a tweet in January, while describing Derry as a beautiful city, Lyra McKee revealed that she was in love with a woman from the city. Before her death, she was working on a book named, “The Lost Boys”, that was due to be published in 2020.

There has been a wave of shock and sympathy in the country after her death. Politicians have damned the ones responsible for the violence. The country’s six biggest political party leaders said that they have been “united in rejecting those responsible for this heinous crime”. They claimed that her murder was an attack on all the people of her community.

A mobile phone footage by an observer showed that a masked gunman started firing towards the police officers on the streets. Lyra McKee, who was standing near a 4×4 vehicle, was shot on the head.

Hamilton said, “She was taken away from the scene in a police Land Rover to Altnagelvin Hospital but unfortunately she has died.”

The people in the country claimed that the murder was an attack on their freedom and that they would stand in “solidarity with the people of Derry” in this tough situation. Prime Minister Theresa May also added that the McKee’s killing was “shocking and senseless” as she “died doing her job with great courage”.

While Lyra McKee’s death was heartbroken for her family, it also received a wide condemnation on a global level. Police said an inquiry against the suspects has been started to deliver justice to the lost soul.

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British Far-Right Groups & Promoters Banned on Facebook & Instagram



Far-Right Groups

Social media giant Facebook has banned various far-right groups and individuals for violating site rules, and spreading hatred and violence.

The banned groups and individuals include, The British National Party and its ex-leader Nick Griffin; Britain First, along with its leader Paul Golding and ex-deputy leader Jayda Fransen; English Defence League and its founder Paul Ray; Knights Templar International and its promoter Jim Dowson; National Front and its president Tony Martin; and an individual neo-Nazi, Jack Renshaw, who planned to murder a Labour MP.

All of these far-right groups and individuals have been removed from Facebook and Instgram. The company said it had to take such a serious action because the involved members were on a “violent or hateful mission”.

The social networking company’s policy does not allow groups or individuals that engage in “terrorist activity, organised hate, mass or serial murder, human trafficking or organised violence or criminal activity”.

“Individuals and organisations who spread hate, or attack or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are, have no place on Facebook,” the US firm’s spokesperson said in a statement.

“Under our dangerous individuals & organisations policy, we ban those who proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence. The individuals and organisations we have banned today violate this policy, and they will no longer be allowed a presence on Facebook or Instagram.

“Posts and other content which expresses praise or support for these figures and groups will also be banned. Our work against organised hate is ongoing and we will continue to review individuals, organisations, pages, groups and content against our community standards,” the spokesperson added.

Moreover, any sort of praise or support for the named far-right groups or individuals would also be not allowed on either of the platform.

MP Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Select committee, praised the ban, calling it “long overdue”.

“For too long social media companies have been facilitating extremist and hateful content online and profiting from the poison. They have particularly failed on far-right extremism as they don’t even have the same co-ordination systems for platforms to work together as they do on Islamist extremism,” she added.

Cooper also added financial penalties should be levied on firms that are not ready to remove violent or hateful content.

“We all know the appalling consequences there can be if hateful, violent and illegal content is allowed to proliferate,” she said.

The removal of far-right groups and individuals comes after the social media site said it would block “praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism” on Facebook and Instagram.

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