Monday, 8 March 2021
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
As we called it out in the programme for Government, domestic, sexual and gender-based violence is an epidemic in our country. We are ever more conscious of this during Covid-19. The high reporting figures are good because they represent a sign that primarily women are coming forward to say what is happening. The Government has identified this epidemic and is going to address it. There are four major areas besides all the other items that Senator O'Reilly mentioned, including the additional funding - we are going to continue that through each budget - and the audit of responsibility. We need to design our structures better because they are not working fully as they currently are. We are going to redesign them. The audit response should be with us in the next number of months.
We will be one of the first countries in Europe to adopt domestic violence paid leave and that will be essential in recognising the poverty that so many people fleeing domestic violence fear. Finally, we have the accommodation review. We are aware of the desperate need for more accommodation throughout the country. We are taking a step back and looking to see where it is. Is it emergency accommodation? Is it step-down accommodation? We are asking what is needed so we can better plan and put in resources, especially capital resources to initiate a refuge or supported accommodation. This is a commitment for the Government. It is a job between myself, the Minister for Justice, Deputy McEntee, and other Ministers and we are absolutely committed to addressing this issue.