Source: Sinn Féin
26 November, 2020 – by Pauline Tully TD
Sinn Féin Cavan-Monaghan TD, Pauline Tully, has highlighted the need for a comprehensive national and long-term response to the tackle the enormous everyday problem of domestic abuse.
Commenting on a recently published Safe Ireland report – Tracking the Shadow Pandemic, which traces the prevalence of domestic abuse and coercive control during the lockdown months from March to August, Teachta Tully said:
“Safe Ireland, working with 39 front-line services, have recently presented a bleak report on the prevalence of domestic abuse and coercive control during the lockdown.
“The figures in the report are stark.
“Over the six-month period, 3,450 women and 589 children contacted a domestic violence service for the first time. Almost 34,000 helpline calls were answered, which is an average of 184 a day.
“During this period 1,351 requests for refuge could not be met.
“Although service providers worked tirelessly to find accommodation in the community, one of the main reasons many women do not leave an abusive relationship is the shortage of available and affordable accommodation that could rehouse victims of abuse at short notice.
“According to the Council of Europe, it is recommended there should be one refuge place per 10,000 people, meaning there should be 446 refuge places in Ireland, whereas there are only 143 currently, and even fewer due to Covid.
“This is simply not good enough and it must be addressed as a matter of priority by the Government. Otherwise, the number of women who suffer domestic abuse will continue to rise.
“It should also be noted that not everybody in an abusive situation requires a refuge, but they need options to live free from a violent partner.
“Housing is the key requirement that needs to be made available to those fleeing domestic abuse.
“One in four women become homeless as a result of domestic abuse.
“In my constituency of Cavan-Monaghan, there is a severe lack of emergency accommodation available to at-risk women.
“Although it is a large rural constituency, it does not have a single refuge and there are only three staff employed to assist vulnerable women across the two counties.
“Undoubtedly, it is one of the worst funded areas for domestic violence supports, a situation that cannot be allowed to continue.
“I commend the service provided by Tearmann Domestic Violence Services, which is excellent in the support it gives. However, like all domestic violence services, it is at its wits’ end dealing with the level of contacts it is receiving.
“Safe Ireland has consistently looked for a resourced national service development plan to be led by Safe Ireland in consultation with front-line services such as Tearmann.
“This service development plan would be the start of a comprehensive national and long-term response to the enormous everyday problem of domestic abuse and coercive control.”