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Domestic violence victims face bleak Christmas if refuges are not provided

Stock image: Domestic violence

Stock image: Domestic violence

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Domestic violence victims and their children face a bleak Christmas if a shortfall in the provision of safe refuges across the country are not addressed, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has said.

While Ms McDonald welcomed the announcement of emergency funding for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence services made on Friday night she warned that it must be "quickly followed by a funding strategy to deliver additional refuge places".

“I want to welcome this evening’s announcement that emergency funding is to be provided to help services meet Covid-19 related costs,” Ms McDonald said yesterday.

"This will help deal with immediate Covid related challenges which services face. It is important that the distribution of this once-off fund is criteria-led, fair and regionally balanced.

“The moderate increase in core funding for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence services for 2021 is also welcome, but it needs to be followed quickly with a strategy to deliver additional refuge places with trauma informed wraparound supports and services.

Woman crying. Picture posed

Woman crying. Picture posed

"This strategy must also incorporate a ‘whole housing approach’ with access to safe homes and longer-term housing in all counties.

The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, revealed last on Friday that Tusla will allocate additional funding of €4.7 million to support domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV) services across the country in 2021.

Minister O’Gorman said he was delighted to announce a significant increase in funding for DSGBV services next year.

“I am hopeful that these additional resources will enable services to continue their valuable supports for victims and their families at a very vulnerable time in their lives,” he said.

Cllr Carly Bailey of the Social Democrats revealed the true, shocking figure emerging from the heightened risks to women and children since the Covid-19 crisis began.

“Safe Ireland, the national agency for domestic violence, have painted a very worrying picture in their report, ‘Tracking the Shadow Pandemic’, which covers the March-August period of this year,” Cllr Bailey said.

“During this time, nearly 2,000 women and 400 children received help from a domestic abuse organisation every month.

“In Dublin 24, Saoirse’s Outreach and Prevention Services responded to 521 families with 974 children under the age of 18. In one month alone, it had 25 women and 28 children in its refuge and its helpline dealt with 1,132 calls.”

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