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Saturday 17 February 2018

Cuts force rape crisis centre to temporarily close

Fiona Neary, RCNI Executive Director. Picture: Martin Maher
Fiona Neary, RCNI Executive Director. Picture: Martin Maher
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

ONE of Ireland's largest support services for victims of rape and sexual assault has been forced to close for at least a month due to a funding shortfall.

Rape Crisis Midwest will have to temporarily close its services in Nenagh and Ennis for the next month and run just a skeleton service in Limerick due to a funding crisis.

It blamed a drop-off in private donations and the "cumulative effect" of cutbacks in government funding.

The eight staff at the centre had been forced to take unpaid leave of absence, said spokeswoman Cliona Saidlear. About 80 clients a week access services at the facility.

But only a handful of staff will be available for emergency and telephone support over the coming week.

Ms Saidlear said that despite trying to cut costs as much as possible, the centre was struggling to stay open after six years of cuts to its funding – the bulk of which is now through grants from the Child and Family Agency.

Fiona Neary, director of Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI), said the Child and Family Agency, known as Tusla, was not providing enough funding to operate the service adequately.

She said the RCNI needed at least a 50pc increase in its annual €4.5m state funding.

A spokeswoman for Tusla said: "Funding for services in Rape Crisis Midwest have been reduced by 2.5pc in the current year.

"This is in line with other services and in keeping with financial restrictions."

Irish Independent

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