Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 3 November 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality
Women's Shelters and Domestic Abuse Refuges: Discussion
I thank Ms McDermott, Ms Graham, Ms Sherlock and all our guests for their presentations. I am from the constituency of Cavan-Monaghan and when we are talking about this issue, we cannot help but think of Ms Clodagh Hawe and her three beautiful boys who lost their lives in these exact circumstances.
In my constituency we have the Tearmann domestic abuse service with Siobhán McKenna and her amazing team there. If it were not for them we would have absolutely nothing. Somebody mentioned in the presentation to the committee the fact there are only nine counties without refuges. Two of them are in my constituency. We know there is under-resourcing. The Tearmann service could not possibly be in a position to respond adequately to all of the calls it receives. While it does respond and makes the best of what it has, none of it provides adequate or protective accommodation, about which all of the witnesses have spoken so eloquently today. I would like to get the views of the witnesses on this.
The witnesses have spoken about models of very good practice where this is being done in other counties. They spoke about wraparound services. Ms McDermott said something very concerning. She said that domestic violence was completely erased from the national budget. It is incumbent on those who are in parties that are members of the Government to address this. I will certainly seek to do so. Do local authorities have any role in this? Do they come in with emergency accommodation? Will the witnesses give me and other members an insight into constituencies such as mine that have absolutely no services whatsoever for protective safe accommodation? What can we do? I have to imagine it puts huge pressure on other refuges throughout the country. These women and children have to go somewhere so it must be putting immense pressure on other refuges outside of the counties.