Cardiff councillor apologises to domestic violence charities
Cardiff councillor Neil McEvoy has apologised for a series of accusations he made on Twitter on White Ribbon Day against two Welsh anti-domestic violence charities.
McEvoy, Cardiff council’s deputy leader and a member of Plaid Cymru, Cardiff council’s ruling coalition, took to his Twitter account on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, or White Ribbon Day.
He made accusations against Welsh Women’s Aid (WWA) and Safer Wales, two organisations which help victims of domestic abuse.
This is what he Twittered: “Why does Welsh Women’s Aid support member groups who help to emotionally abuse children?”; “Do you not agree that it damages a child to be denied contact with a good parent?” and “I would argue that Safer Wales helps to abuse children”.
He claimed the groups were responsible for “publicly funded child abuse”, accused Safer Wales of supporting women who break court orders and of “denying good fathers contact” and alleged that the two groups assist women to defy court orders in custody cases.
This is not the first time that McEvoy has expressed these sentiments. Paula Hardy, WWA chief executive, has accused Councillor McEvoy of having made “ludicrous” claims for more than two years now.
She said: “The comments posted by Coun Neil McEvoy and the outrageous and unsubstantiated claims he makes are the latest in a two-year campaign of hatred against WWA”.
She added: “Whilst Coun McEvoy states that he has evidence to support his ludicrous statements he has failed at any point over the past two years to present this or to take action in response to his concerns.
“WWA believe that it is particularly disappointing that on White Ribbon Day Coun McEvoy chooses to engage in this sort of behaviour.”
But McEvoy’s campaign of hatred might be coming to an end.
After both Plaid Cymru and Cardiff council received complaints against him, Plaid Cymru, which has sought to distance itself from his comments, suspended him and council leader Rodney Berman branded the remarks neither “appropriate nor justifiable”.
On December 2 McEvoy issued an apology.
“I sincerely regret posting tweets on International Day Against Violence Against Women, also known as White Ribbon Day.
“I apologise for any offence caused and accept I should have used less emotional language than the words I used.
“I regret letting my emotional baggage of being a father who has experienced what, I believe, are the inadequacies of the family law system to guide my political actions.
“I particularly regret that the tweeting of comments – originally made 18 months ago – on this sensitive day has allowed the matter to become more about me than the issue itself.
“I accept I should have used less emotional language than the words I used. It is worth pointing out that I have always supported lots of the good work such organisations do.
“I call upon the Children’s Commissioner to consider my evidence and I am prepared to sit down with Welsh Women’s Aid, Safer Wales, Families Need Fathers and other groups to map a way forward to ensure issues around child contact can be resolved through measured dialogue.”
McEvoy’s hostility towards organisations that provide an invaluable service to victims of domestic abuse is deeply worrying, given his position as councillor.
As is his willingness to dismiss the charities’ work and focus on something which is, to all intents and purposes, outside the scope of these organisations; the matter of child contact is resolved in court.
One in four women will be affected by domestic abuse in their lifetimes. And when that happens, there is little help for women other than from these organisations which are, at any given time, working beyond breaking point. They have to effectively pick up the slack that society has chosen to ignore.
One cannot help but wonder whether McEvoy believes these organisations want to take time from their life-saving work to focus on helping a woman to keep her children away from their “good father” just because she holds a grudge.
His comments not only display a lack of understanding of the nature of domestic violence and child abuse, but they also show a huge disrespect for victims and survivors of domestic abuse and the people who have helped them in their hour of need.