Funding plea to curb risk of violence in the home
Domestic violence will continue to put lives in danger if there is not strong political leadership and a significant investment in services, an advocacy group has warned.
Safe Ireland, which represents domestic violence services nationwide, released its annual 'One Day Census' yesterday and found that 475 women and 301 children looked for refuge or were supported on one day last year - November 4, 2014.
On that day, 120 women and 166 children were in shelters, but another 18 women were turned away because services were full.
The report, which aims to provide a "snapshot" of a day in the life of frontline domestic violence services in Ireland, showed helplines received 137 calls over the 24 hours.
Safe Ireland's Shauna O'Halloran said the shooting dead of Garda Tony Golden exposed the "devastating consequences" of domestic violence. The unarmed garda was supporting a victim of abuse in Omeath, Co Louth, when he was murdered.
"Without committed leadership across all government departments and agencies, without significant investment in services and training, and without a fundamental cultural shift in how we view domestic violence, it will continue to risk lives, wreck families and poison futures," Ms O'Halloran said.
"All our notions of safety in community, safety at home and safety within the systems that are in place to protect us were shattered last week."
Safe Ireland was among eight groups that appeared before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, which has started its pre-legislative scrutiny on the General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill.
The law, which must be in place by November 15, will provide victims of crime with a range of rights, including information about the progress of their case.
It is being introduced to fulfil Ireland's obligations under the European Union Victims' Directive, which was agreed in 2012.
However, groups have expressed concern about the resources that will be available.
The Victims' Rights Alliance said it was essential that victims had access to support services (including counselling and shelters) free of charge during and after an investigation.