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Government needs to deliver on commitment to protect families from domestic violence – McDonald

29 September, 2011 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Speaking in the Dáil this morning Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD called on the Tánaiste to urgently tackle the increasing number of women and children seeking refuge from domestic violence.

Responding to the annual statistics on domestic violence published yesterday by Safe Ireland Deputy McDonald said:

“The figures published yesterday are alarming. Women and children in situations of domestic violence could not access refuges on 3,236 occasions last year, that’s a 38% increase on equivalent figures for 2009.

“In real terms, that means supports for women experiencing abuse in the home is at an all-time low. Community facilities are adequately resourced and getting women to safety where situations of abuse arise is extremely difficult.

“It is well documented that in times of recession instances of domestic violence increase dramatically. That is why domestic violence services aimed at protecting vulnerable women and their families should be made an absolute priority.

“The international comparisons in this report are stark with Ireland having just one third of the refuge capacity as recommended by the Council of Europe.

“The Programme for Government commits to the introduction of consolidated and reformed domestic violence legislation to address all aspects of domestic violence, threatened violence and intimidations in a manner that provides protection to victims.

“In advance of this year’s general election Labour in its manifesto committed to tackling and eradicating domestic violence and to protect funding for frontline services, such as family refuges.

“It is deeply disappointing that the promised legislation is not included in the Governments legislative programme, and in response to my raising this matter in the Dáil this morning the Tánaiste merely promised a review of the current services.

“The facts speak for themselves. We don’t need a review to tell us that literally thousands of vulnerable women and children are being turned away each year from safe shelter when seeking to escape a life of violence and harm.

“It is this Government’s responsibility to ensure adequate funding is made available to refuges in order to ensure the safety of women and their families.” ENDS

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