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REFUGE CRISIS: Clarity sought over cut jeopardising emergency refuge

Thursday, 3rd April, 2014 6:45pm

Story by Damian McCarney
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REFUGE CRISIS: Clarity sought over cut jeopardising emergency refuge

Sharon O’Halloran, CEO of SAFE Ireland

REFUGE CRISIS: Clarity sought over cut jeopardising emergency refuge

Sharon O’Halloran, CEO of SAFE Ireland

Damian McCarney

Confusion surrounds a funding decision which puts the future of a refuge centre for victims of domestic violence in jeopardy.

According to Louth County Council, the implementation of a national directive means that Women’s Aid Dundalk can receive a maximum of just €20,000 for its refuge this year. This decision would result in management being forced into closing the refuge centre, which provides emergency accommodation for domestic violence victims from counties Cavan, Monaghan and Louth.

However, The Anglo-Celt understands that there is confusion over which directive is in question, and whether it requires such an enormous slashing of funds. The cuts in 2014 amounts to a 75% reduction on the level of funding from 2012. This equates to less than €55 a day to provide support for up to five families at a time.

Dundalk Women’s Aid Board, and SAFE Ireland, the national organisation for frontline domestic violence services, are now seeking clarity on the reason for the apparent disproportionate cut to the service. The organisations are working with key national agencies to ensure that the refuge service can remain open beyond the expected closure date of June 27.

“Dundalk Women’s Aid has been in negotiation with Louth County Council since March 2013,” explained Sharon O’Halloran, CEO of SAFE Ireland. “We are now looking for clarity on the reasons provided for this cut. Nobody wants this vital service to close.”

As initially revealed by The Celt, the lack of a refuge in County Cavan currently sees two out of every three victims who report domestic violence being told that they have no accommodation. Victims from the West of County Cavan, who are lucky enough to avail of accommodation will be housed in County Sligo, while those for the rest of the county, their primary option was Women's Aid refuge in Dundalk.

Capacity

In 2013, the Dundalk refuge was consistently full to capacity and 293 requests for refuge had to be refused. At present the region is operating 38% below Council of Europe recommended levels for refuge provision. The closure will increase this to 57% below the recommended level.

Nationally the figures are appalling. Ireland currently has just over one-third of Council of Europe recommended levels for emergency accommodation – or 139 family units. On 3,469 occasions in 2012, requests from women for refuge could not be met because the refuge was full. That means that nearly 10 times every day of the year in 2012 women had to be refused emergency accommodation.

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