Justice Minister must commit to refuge centre in every county

26 January 2023

Labour justice spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has expressed immense concern at reports that half of women’s refuges across the country are almost full.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“Alarm bells must be ringing in the Department of Justice following reports that many women’s refuge centres across the country are full.

“Last June, the Justice Minister announced a strategy to transform Ireland’s approach to protecting and supporting victims and survivors of domestic, gender and sexual violence. However, it appears that the party of law and order Fine Gael is all talk and no action when it comes to protecting some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“It is a damning inditement of the frailty of our State-infrastructure, that should be preventing and responding to domestic violence. Labour is demanding that the Justice Minister commits to opening a refuge space in each and every county to help victims of domestic abuse, and enable them to stay in their community with the support of friends and family.

“Last November, the Justice Minister said she was confident that the State would surpass its early targets to increase the number of refuge spaces. It’s clear that Fine Gael is failing fast .

“Of course, we are all too aware of the impact that the housing crisis is having on victims of domestic violence. Pressures on the refuge spaces are exacerbated by Fianna Fáil’s failure to meet its self-imposed housing targets which means many women cannot transition out of refuges to more permanent accommodation.

“Domestic violence is undeniably a major cause of homelessness for women. Where the civil and criminal justice system fail to provide protection for women in the home, as we see happening in Ireland, women become forced to leave home and make themselves and their children homeless. When there are no suitable refuge spaces for them, they may either be forced either to return home to danger; or to use inappropriate emergency bed and breakfast accommodation, where they will not get the support or security that they and their children need.

“Ireland lags far below the European standard for provision of refuge spaces. It is imperative that Fine Gael deliver on its promise to provide shelter and support for women fleeing domestic violence. It’s time to recognise the needs of women and children who are subject to abuse in their homes and take action now provide a refuge for victims in their community.”

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