November 21, 2020
Increased funding for violence services welcome, but strategy to deliver additional refuge places must follow – Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald has welcomed the increased funding for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence services, but said it must be “quickly followed by a funding strategy to deliver additional refuge places”. 

Ms. McDonald said:

“Along with Safe Ireland and other domestic abuse services, we have been engaging with the Taoiseach and Minister O’Gorman over the last number of weeks to urgently secure additional funding to deal with the huge challenges facing frontline services during the ongoing public health restrictions. 

“I want to welcome the announcement that emergency funding is to be provided to help services meet Covid-19 related costs.  

“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. 

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

“Between March and June of this year 1,351 requests for refuge went unmet because services were full.  Nine counties have no refuge provision at all. 

“This is a complete and utter scandal. Not only is Ireland failing to meet its legal obligations under the Istanbul Convention on domestic violence refuge places, the government is provided no funding in Budget 2021 to remedy this.

“Demands on domestic violence services increased by 25% on average during Covid, with some services experiencing increases of as much as 40%.

“We know incidents of domestic violence and abuse increase over the Christmas period. Victims, their children and the services they rely on will face a very bleak picture in 2021 if the government does not adopt an appropriate and ambitious strategy to address refuge shortages across the country.”

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