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Domestic violence victims ‘at risk’ due to major shortage of refuge spaces in one of country’s most affluent areas

A report has revealed Dublin needs 143 refuge spaces, but currently only has 24


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Domestic abuse victims are “likely” to be staying in dangerous situations because of a major shortage of refuge spaces in one of Ireland’s most affluent areas.

A report seen by the Irish Independent has revealed a major shortage in emergency accommodation for abuse victims in Dublin.

Gardaí are forced to take women and children from abusive homes in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown to other parts of the country because there is no refuge in the area.

But a national shortage means that when a family from Dún Laoghaire is put into a refuge in another area, a family in that region is likely to be turned away.

The unpublished report revealed that Dublin needs 143 refuge spaces, but currently only has 24.

There is a national shortage of refuge spaces across the country, with only about 140 spaces available despite Ireland needing almost 500.

The report said the number of refuge spaces per capita in Dublin is below the national average.

The report was commissioned by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to assess the need for a dedicated domestic violence refuge in the area.

The closest refuge to the local authority area is Bray, which the report said was often full.

Gardaí attending emergency domestic abuse incidents in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown (DLR) often have to take women and children to Coolock, Tallaght or Blanchardstown.

“It is possible, and even likely, that the disparate and limited nature of domestic abuse services available in DLR currently contributes to some women deciding to stay for longer, or continue to stay, in a DA [domestic abuse] situation, as there is no clear, safe pathway to exit available,” the report said.

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“This increases the risk of exposure to DA for women and children in these situations in DLR,” it added.

The report said that there was a “significant shortage” of refuge spaces in the greater Dublin area, so victims being sent to refuges from Dún Laoghaire was having a knock-on effect.

“It is therefore likely that when a family from DLR accesses refuge space elsewhere (outside of DLR), another family from that area is turned away,” it said.

The report said that refuges in Ireland were twice as likely to have to turn a victim away than be available to help.

Under the Istanbul Convention, Ireland should have 498 refuge spaces but currently only has 140.

The report added that domestic abuse affects people from all socio-economic backgrounds, and that a victim from an affluent family could be experiencing financial abuse.

It said gardaí in the Dún Laoghaire/Blackrock districts recorded 294 domestic violence incidents this year.

There were 126 barring, interim barring, safety or protection orders issued in the same area so far this year and of those, 42 were breached.

The report found it was “unlikely” that refuges near DLR would compensate for the lack of a refuge in the area, as spaces in other refuges were so low.

It recommended that a new and dedicated domestic violence service, with 24 spaces, be established. The report will be discussed at a meeting of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council tonight.

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