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Sunday 25 August 2019

Government called on to provide free contraception and more women's refuge places in its next Budget


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Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Free contraception and funds for more women's refuge places are among measures that must be in the next Budget, the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) has said.

The organisation's Budget calls also include more cash for maternity services and support for lone parents, including a new agency to help mothers secure child maintenance payments without going to court.

Dr Cliona Loughnane, of the NWCI, said contraception "is typically still largely a woman's concern, which means that it is women who are paying for it".

Ms Loughnane said that universal access would help prevent unplanned pregnancies and reduce the need for abortions.

A Department of Health working group is considering how to improve access to contraception and is to report by the end of September.

The NWCI also wants Budget measures aimed at eliminating violence against women, including funding to increase refuge spaces.

Ireland has 155 spaces and the NWCI pointed to a section of the Istanbul Convention on Violence Against Women suggesting there should be 472 based on our population.

Noeline Blackwell, of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said refuges here are "beyond capacity". The Department of Children said Minister Katherine Zappone accepts the need for more places.

A statement highlighted the deployment of 12 new outreach workers, as well as plans to reopen the Rathmines women's refuge and provide a further five new emergency units this year.

Irish Independent

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