Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has said that the lack of safe and suitable accommodation for victims of domestic violence was putting the safety and wellbeing of women and children who suffer at the hands of abusive partners at risk.

Teachta Crowe said that there had been a 17% increase in domestic violence calls to the Gardaí across the State in 2020, but local services helping victims like Saoirse Women’s Refuge had been experiencing real challenges as their ability to fund raise has been drastically reduced and impacted by COVID 19 restrictions

Teachta Crowe said:

“An Garda Síochána received approximately 43,500 calls to respond to domestic abuse incidents in 2020, which was an increase of 17%. More than 4,000 criminal charges were brought in 2020 under the Domestic Violence Act, which is an increase of 24%.

“The Garda received approximately 10,000 calls to respond to domestic abuse incidents in the first three months of this year alone, an increase of 7%, and more than 1,000 criminal charges were brought.

“At least nine counties have no refuges at all for victims of domestic violence. Here in Dublin South West, local services like the Saoirse Women’s Refuge in Tallaght have seen real challenges as their ability to fund raise drastically reduced and impacted by COVID 19 restrictions.

“Demand has increased dramatically during the Lockdown but practical supports and services have not met this new challenge.

“By failing to provide safe and secure accommodation for victims of domestic abuse, we are putting lives at risk on a daily basis.

“Women, as its mostly women, and children fleeing abusive relationships are often left with literally the clothes on their back as the abusive partner tries to tightly control every aspect of their lives, including finances. This is all part of the control they seek to have over their victims.

“We need to see a greater investment in the safety of victims of domestic abuse. The Government has still not put in place along with local Authorities the number of refuge spaces which are in demand and increasingly needed.

“Ideally, no one should ever be turned away from safety because there is no space or a refuge locally, but this has happened and the lockdown has unfortunately made things worse

“These abuse victims and their families must also be officially counted as homeless while in refuge accommodation so that they can access a wider range of supports to help them break the link to their abuser in the long term.”