Shelters 'turning away domestic violence victims'
Battered women have been turned away from shelters outside the area where they normally live, a victim support organisation has claimed.
The Victims' Rights Alliance has argued the policy is in contravention of an EU directive introduced a year ago.
The alliance, an umbrella body for several victim-support and human rights organisations, has criticised the Government's "slow response" to the directive, with a new Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill still unpublished.
The group's coordinator, barrister Maria McDonald, said the Government was "over a year late publishing the legislation".
Amongst its concerns is the continuing existence of the local authority "centre of interest" requirement, which limits access to emergency housing or accommodation based on where the person normally lives.
"This is particularly difficult for victims forced to leave locations because they are victims of crime, such as domestic violence," said Ms McDonald.
She said the alliance was aware of instances where women had been turned away from shelters, either because they were full, or based on the fact they did not reside in that location. The alliance has also raised concerns about the level of information about services for victims of crime available in Garda leaflets, GP surgeries and hospitals.
A spokesman for Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said the bill was "in the advanced stage of drafting" and was "a key priority". He said it was likely to be ready before Christmas.
Although legislation is not in place, some organisations are already acting in compliance with the directive.
These include the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), which has been offering victims reasons in cases where the DPP decides not to prosecute for the past year.