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Sunday 20 October 2019

Government pledges €1.5m to tackle domestic and sexual violence

Minister Katherine Zappone. Picture: Paul Sharp
Minister Katherine Zappone. Picture: Paul Sharp Newsdesk Newsdesk

The Irish Government has pledged an extra €1.5m in funding to tackle a rise in domestic and sexual violence.

The additional money will go towards frontline services combating rape, sexual assaults and gender based attacks.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone said 16 organisations combating sexual violence in Ireland will benefit from the 10pc increase in core funding.

Counties that are lacking in domestic violence services will have 12 new outreach workers for women and children.

Areas in Galway, Carlow, Wicklow, Cork and Dublin are set to benefit from the increase in support.

Ms Zappone said: "As Minister I have seen at first hand the invaluable work of frontline agencies supporting women and children targeted by domestic, sexual and gender based violence.

"I have also listened to the voices of those forced out of their homes by threats, abuse and violence.

"Their views have informed the decisions which have been taken in order to provide better information, supports and protections.

"With the increase in funding we will address shortfalls and gaps in services which have been identified."

The extra 1.5m euro in funding will allow a national roll out of a 12-week healing programme for children who have been impacted by domestic abuse which also helps parents and guardians to understand their child's experiences and support their recovery.

A new refuge will open in south Dublin in the autumn while a specific initiative will be introduced to reduce the waiting times for counselling for victims of sexual violence.

The minister added: "We all have a role to play in ensuring the safety of those forced to flee an abusive partner, often with their children.

"The funding I am now confirming is being directly targeted at frontline services.

"It will offer protection to people fleeing emotional, physical or sexual abuse - it will help those in danger.

"The new initiatives will also ensure that Ireland meets its international obligations under the Istanbul Convention."

Noeline Blackwell, the chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said the funding will help address the "explosion" in demand for the centre's therapeutic services.

She said: "It's not just a regular increase - the number of people who are disclosing sexual violence and seeking the treatment they need has increased enormously.

"We were not in a position to meet that need so this funding will allow us to address an ever-growing waiting list and bring in the resources we need to really focus on the people who are waiting.

"Around 18 months ago we were making our way through a waiting list of 150 people who were waiting about five months and that has now grown to 200 people waiting eight to nine months.

"What people really need is face-to-face therapy and they should get it in a timely way. While they are hurting and in pain they are not able to function.

"That is damaging for themselves, they people they love and damaging for us as a society."

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre helpline number is 1800 77 88 88.

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