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Tragedy on Women's Day puts issue in focus

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Although refuges provide support confidentially, the issue of domestic violence must be discussed openly if it is to be tackled (Stock picture)

Although refuges provide support confidentially, the issue of domestic violence must be discussed openly if it is to be tackled (Stock picture)

Although refuges provide support confidentially, the issue of domestic violence must be discussed openly if it is to be tackled (Stock picture)

Sonas describes itself as "the largest provider of frontline services to women and children experiencing domestic abuse in the greater Dublin region".

The organisation supports women and children "experiencing domestic abuse by providing effective, quality services".

"We advocate on women and children's behalf with other services and on issues that impact on the safety, welfare and wellbeing of women and children experiencing domestic abuse."

Such services should not be necessary in a modern society. Unfortunately they are and organisations like Sonas are often inundated with demands for help.

The accommodation used for these services are usually discreet.

The location of the Sonas facility in Clondalkin became public early yesterday morning. A fire in the Cluainin Cronan on Kilcronan Avenue claimed the lives of a woman and three children.

Annemarie O'Brien (27), who was seven months pregnant, her daughter Paris (2) and her cousins, Holly O'Brien (3) and Jordan (4), all died in the fire.

Annemarie's cousin, Biddy O'Brien, the mother of Holly and Jordan, is in a critical condition in St James's Hospital.

Annemarie was staying in the Sonas facility and Biddy was just visiting for the night.

It was a tragic start to International Women's Day.

Yet it was also a graphic illustration of how services for vulnerable women are so necessary.

Although these refuges provide support confidentially, the issue of domestic violence must be discussed openly if it is to be tackled.

Those who raised 'Grace' case deserve a hearing

"Was this a conspiracy and cover-up? Yes, it was. As I have stated previously, it was a concerted and organised attempt to hide information and conceal the truth by a clique of HSE managers. It was an orchestrated attempt to protect officials who and an organisation which failed people in State care in a catastrophic manner on a number of levels."

Fine Gael TD John Deasy deserves credit for his pursuit of the case now known as 'Grace' - the vulnerable, disabled young woman allegedly abused in foster care.

Indeed, were it not for Mr Deasy being a member of the high-profile Public Accounts Committee in the last Dáil, one wonders would the case ever have received the requisite level of scrutiny it deserved.

The Waterford TD speaks with authority on the case so he deserves a hearing. He did not speak lightly in the Dáil yesterday when he made that statement to describe what happened as "an orchestrated attempt to protect officials".

Mr Deasy and Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, who has also repeatedly raised the case, succeeded in shooting down the narrow terms of reference in the forthcoming inquiry into the 'Grace' case.

Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath has agreed to return to Cabinet to draft fresh terms after objections.

If the truth is to be established and lessons are to be learned from 'Grace', then it is important that time be taken on the structure of the inquiry.

Irish Independent