Maiden Speech

4 July, 2011

Local MLAs already making a difference for victims of domestic violence


Newly elected MLAs, Paula Bradley and Pam Lewis highlighted the issue of domestic violence during their maiden speeches on Monday 6th June.  The Private Member’s Motion, which called on Justice Minister David Ford to prioritise domestic violence within his Department, attracted unanimous support from all political parties. 


Former Newtownabbey Mayor and North Belfast MLA, Paula Bradley and former Antrim Mayor and South Antrim MLA, Pam Lewis, have both been avid and vocal supporters of Women’s Aid over the years.  Both women have been recently elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly for the first time, and used the first opportunity afforded to them to highlight an issue facing thousands of their constituents, yet still rarely voiced. 


Summing up her maiden speech in the Assembly Chamber, Paula Bradley said:


‘When I was preparing for my speech this morning, I thought about how I felt and about how nervous I would be.  I thought that that was nothing compared with how an abused man or woman would be feeling.  Many people will be watching this debate at home or in the Building, and, if it has empowered a woman or man to break the cycle because they know that the Assembly is prepared to keep this issue to the fore, Pam and I will have made a great achievement’. 


Newtownabbey Borough Council became one of the first organisations in Northern Ireland to receive the Gold Workplace Charter and Ballyclare was the first town to launch ‘Safe Place’, initiatives developed by Women’s Aid locally and Onus, a Social Economy Business.  These initiatives were highlighted by Pam Lewis and Paula Bradley, who have been supporters from their launch, as has Justice Minister David Ford, whose Carnmoney Road constituency office became the first constituency office to receive a Workplace Charter Award. 


Newtownabbey Borough Council and Ballyclare businesses were among those to have their Workplace Charters renewed at the 2nd Annual Workplace Charter Award Ceremony, at the University of Ulster in Jordanstown on 31st May. 


At the event in Jordanstown, Pam Lewis also received a Special Recognition award, in acknowledgement of her support for Women’s Aid, including nominating the charity during her year as Mayor.  She recently presented the organisation with a cheque for £2735.24, which will go towards supporting local women and children. 



Anyone dealing with domestic violence can access support by calling the 24hr Domestic Violence Helpline on 0800 917 1414.  Safe Place resources also give contact information for PSNI, Victim Support and Childline.