Airbnb may be used for victims of domestic abuse

April 8th, 2020 11:55 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

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A WEST Cork charity that supports victims of domestic abuse says it is ready and prepared for anything that comes down the line during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

Speaking to The Southern Star, Marie Mulholland, co-ordinator of Bantry-based  West Cork Women Against Violence (WCWAV) said that they are still maintaining the vital phone service, despite the current circumstances with many offices and businesses closed.

‘We have a support worker who comes into the office every day from 9am to 5pm dealing with calls and clients as well as answering emails and queries from our Facebook page so that’s important that people know that,’ said Marie.

‘The longer social isolation goes on, then the more problematic things are going to become for families where there is abuse and where there is serious tension and concerns for safety.’

She pointed out that existing refuges are not taking in any more people because of the health situation so there’s an issue in accommodating families in an emergency.

With B&Bs and guesthouses also closed – which they would have used in emergency situations – her team is now looking for alternative accommodation and getting things in place.

‘We are looking at properties like holiday lettings – which would be far more suitable for families than putting them into refuges or shared accommodation – and we have managed to source a few that we can use in an emergency.’

Marie said that they want Cork County Council, who are responsible for paying the HAP (Housing Assistance Payment)  and other payments, to  agree that Airbnb can be used for emergency accommodation for those escaping domestic violence.

‘We are also in close communications with the gardaí in West Cork and they will react very strongly to any abuser who breaches an existing order. I think the level of collaboration and co-operation is second to none in West Cork and people are great,’ she added.

With limited court sittings taking place in the area, Marie said it is vital that anyone who  is looking for an order should contact the court clerk’s office in Clonakilty or contact WCWAV directly.

‘I would urge anyone who finds themselves in volatile situations to ring us or even send us a Facebook message if they are able to.’

Meanwhile, An Garda Síochána is reassuring victims that domestic abuse incidents, including coercive control, will continue to receive highest priority response for service during Covid-19.

‘The restructuring of An Garda Síochána ensures that there are more gardaí than ever on our streets and in our communities around the country and we are ready to assist and protect victims of domestic abuse,’ said a garda spokesperson.

Anyone who is a victim of the crime of domestic abuse should contact their local garda station or, in an emergency, call 999/112.

WCWAV can be contacted at 027-53847 or Facebook; Women’s Aid: 1800 341 900; Clonakilty District Court office: 023-8835759.

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