Adams concerned at impact of Tusla decision on Louth rape crisis service
Sinn Féin President and Louth TD has expressed his “deep concern” at the decision by the Child and Family Agency, Tusla to remove funding from the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland and the “potential impact this will have on the provision of rape crisis and domestic violence services in County Louth.”
The Louth TD raised the issue with the Taoiseach in the Dáil on Tuesday. He also asked the Taoiseach when the Reformed and Consolidated Domestic Violence Bill would finally be produced.
Teachta Adams said:
“The Rape Crisis Network of Ireland provides a vital and essential service for the rape crisis centres across the state. It provides these centres, including Rape Crisis North East which is based in Dundalk, with oversight and governance processes, training for staff, research and legal support. It also helps running educational campaigns.
The 11 centres which are part of the RCNI require its services to fulfil contractual commitments which are part of their funding arrangements. I have written to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs asking him to review the decision of Tusla and to clarify government support for rape crisis services.
It is reported that a 2011 report for the government concluded that the state had twice the number of rape crisis centres as necessary under EU policy. There is a worry that the Tusla decision, and the current review that it is being undertaken by a firm of consultants, is part of a process of rationalisation which might see some rape crisis centres forced to close.
The most recent report from the Rape crisis Network recorded that; ‘Sexual violence is highly prevalent …1 in 5 girls and 1 in 6 boys experience contact sexual abuse and 1 in 10 women are raped within their life time (SAVI 2002). Given its systemic and gendered nature sexual violence is recognised as a life-limiting discrimination under which all women suffer (UN CEDAW). In short, sexual violence is one of the most critical issues a just society must address. No government can ignore or neglect this issue as its pervasiveness and the seriousness of its negative impacts makes the social contract precarious.’
The report also estimated that ‘only 20% of survivors will reach out to specialist services. That means 80% do not …’
The obvious need for Rape Crisis Centres is obvious. The government should review the Tusla decision as a matter of urgency. And honour its commitment in the Programme for government to ‘introduce consolidated and reformed domestic violence legislation to address all aspects of domestic violence, threatened violence and intimidation in a manner that provides protection to victims.’
The Labour Party in particular which committed in its 2011 manifesto ‘to tackling and eradicating domestic violence. We will protect funding for frontline services’, must stand up in government and ensure that funding is restored to the Rape crisis Network Ireland.”
Concluding Louth TD Gerry Adams said:
“In his response to me the Taoiseach confirmed that the heads of the Reformed and Consolidated Domestic Violence Bill “are expected very shortly.”
This is hugely important, especially in light of the report published by Safe Ireland in March - ‘The Lawlessness of the Home – which detailed the shocking experiences of women whoseek legal remedies to domestic violence and abuse.
That report accused the legal system of failing women and children who are living with violence and abuse in their homes. It claimed that often women are:
not taken seriously
their allegations of domestic violence are not fully heard or investigated by gardaí, legal representation or the courts
breaches of safety and barring orders go unpunished
women are silenced in court,
high-risk behaviours by perpetrators are being missed by State agencies, are not being heard or are not being included in evidence
there is no transparency in the way the legal and justice system works
and discretion and stereotyping are integral to the way in which a women can be viewed and treated
It is very clear that government needs to be investing more funding and resources into rape crisis services and women’s refuges than they do currently and that the legislation to protect victims need to be strengthened.”