Women’s project notes urgency of need for refuge spaces in West Cork

March 4th, 2022 1:30 PM

By Siobhan Cronin

Marie Mulholland says the new places are needed sooner rather than later, such is the demand. (Photo: Andy Gibson)

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THE co-ordinator of the West Cork Women Against Violence project (WCWAV), Marie Mulholland, has said she hopes the extra refuge spaces promised for West Cork will be delivered ‘sooner rather than later’.

Ms Mulholland, who was a member of the working group on the Tusla domestic violence accommodation review, also said it was vital that any West Cork initiative was developed in partnership with WCWAV.

This, she said, would ‘ensure that specialist accommodation provision encompasses the full range of supports required by those who so desperately require refuge from violence and abuse.’

Ms Mulholland was responding to the publication this week of the Tusla review of accommodation services for victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

The Tusla review highlighted gaps in geographical coverage and inadequate provision of safe accommodation, including refuges, to meet the country’s needs.

Welcoming the publication of the report, Cork North West Fianna Fáil TD Aindrias Moynihan said that it revealed that a minimum of between 50 and 60 new refuge places are needed as a priority.

He said that between Cork North and Cork West, 10 family places would be added.

He said the timeline for delivery of the places would be published in April.

In response, Ms Mulholland said she was pleased that Tusla has listened to and taken on board the inputs from domestic violence services on increasing the range of accommodation options available to women and children experiencing domestic violence.

‘This review is a response to the increasing urgency for safe accommodation facilities for women and children, homeless due to domestic violence.

‘Ireland is a signatory to the Istanbul Convention which obliges them to provide enough specialist accommodation facilities throughout the country to meet the numbers of DV victims in severe need of safety. For some years now, Ireland has failed to come even close to the numbers of refuge and safe house provision required by their signing of the Convention.’

She added that while local authorities are key to the development of such  accommodation, in large swathes of the country, including West Cork, the fulfilment of that responsibility has been absent. ‘Indeed, it was why WCWAV pursued its own efforts recently to provide a safe house and thankfully were supported to do so by a generous independent philanthropic grant and continued fundraising from the West Cork Community,’ she said.

And while West Cork is now in line for five units of specialist accommodation, it is her hope that local politicians and the County Council will ensure they are provided ‘sooner rather than later’.

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