NEWS that the Kerry Rape and Sexual Assault Centre has been forced to cut its counselling service in order to survive in the face of budget cuts and falling public donations is another cruel blow for the victims and survivors of sex abuse and rape in Kerry.
From early next year the centre must cut its counselling service, which helps up to 60 people a week, by a fifth. Its an awful but understandable decision for the board who run the centre to have made. After all it's better to have such a vital service running at a reduced capacity that shut down altogether.
The hardworking and dedicated staff and volunteers who run the centre are dismayed that they have been forced into such a move but, and it is a credit to them, they have pledged to work even harder in the face of the cuts to make sure anyone who contacts them will receive all the help they need.
While, in terms of the entire population of Kerry, the numbers who use the service are relatively small it remains an utterly vital and irreplaceable service that provides badly needed support to the victims of imaginable crimes.
Aside from the support the centre provides for victims as they rebuild their lives, the mere existence of the service is enough to give some victims the courage to come forward, seek help and see that their attackers are brought to justice.
The KRSAC have also been tireless in their campaign to have a dedicated sexual assault unit set up at Kerry General Hospital to end the need for rape and sex attack victims to suffer a traumatic post attack journey to Cork for forensic examination.
Given the parlous state of the government's coffers its not surprising the state funding has been cut for the service. Similarly given the financial pressure so many people find themselves in it's understandable that donations have begun to dry up.
However, unlike so many of the cuts to services we've seen in Kerry recently, this is a cut we can do something about.
Just a small increase in donations from the public could be enough to keep the centre's vital services going at their current levels.
In its time of need lets dig deep and help an organisation whose quiet, dedicated work have helped so many women and men overcome the most awful trauma.