November 19, 2020
Government failure to meet legal obligations on domestic violence refuge places shameful – Mary Lou McDonald TD

Mary Lou McDonaldSinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has criticised the government for failure to meet its legal obligations on the provision of domestic violence refuge places.

The Dublin Central TD also noted that no allocation has been made by government for additional refuge places this year or next. That is despite 1,343 recorded requests for refuge going unmet this year due to lack of capacity.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Teachta McDonald said: “Domestic, sexual and gender-based violence is an insidious form of abuse that takes place all around us.

“Forty-one per cent of Irish women know someone in their circle of family or friends who have experienced intimate partner violence. Then there are the victims who are too young, too afraid or too ashamed to tell anyone about the abuse that they endure.

“The Domestic Violence Act and Ireland’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention were critical milestones in the state’s armoury to combat domestic violence.

“Criminalising coercive control sends a strong message to victims that controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour is not only unacceptable, it is unlawful.

“Despite these advancements, this government, much like the last, continues to get the fundamentals wrong when it comes to protecting women and their children from domestic abuse and violence.

“I am alarmed by the refusal of this government, like the last, to address the ongoing shortfall in refuge places, wraparound services and related resources.

“Government continues to claim that the state’s current provision of refuge places meets Ireland’s obligations under Istanbul Convention. This is simply not true.

“Safe Ireland reported last week that between March and August this year, 1,351 requests for refuge could not be met due to lack of space. Yet Minister O’Gorman confirmed that no allocation has been made by Tusla for additional refuge places for this year or next.

“Minister O Gorman also confirmed with me that no department or agency holds specific responsibility for the development and delivery of additional refuges.

“So, when Tusla completes its review of refuge provision by April next year who will be responsible for rolling out the additional provision that will inevitably be identified in its report?

“Today’s Dáil debate is welcome. But for victims the reality is that words won’t stop the beatings, but a refuge place will.”

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