domestic violence

Longford Women’s Link calls for change

Longford is among nine counties in the country with no refuge available to victims of Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence, according to RTÉ Investigates – Domestic Abuse, A Year of Crisis, which aired on Monday evening.

The last year has seen a fourfold increase in emergency calls from domestic abuse survivors and Monday’s RTÉ Investigates programme heard that the Midlands is a “blackhole” and “getting scraps from the table” when it comes to domestic abuse.

In the last year RTÉ Investigates filmed in several refuges across the country as the services reached crisis point. From coercive control, repeated patterns of domestic violence, femicide and the traumatic journey through the justice system, the documentary reveals the human stories behind the statistics.

Longford is amongst nine counties in Ireland that have no refuge service available, along with Carlow, Cavan, Laois, Leitrim, Offaly, Monaghan, Roscommon, and Sligo.

In recent weeks, Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced that funding to open a domestic violence refuge in Longford could finally be delivered.

While public representatives and domestic violence support services have campaigned locally for years, no money was available to provide a refuge in Longford.

Now, in the wake of Ashling Murphy’s death in Tullamore, it appears that there could be movement. The Taoiseach committed to providing for such services, while speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on January 20.

“I can understand people’s cynicism, and scepticism about whether this will be done. I can assure people it will be done. It will be followed through,” he said of funding for services.

“The death of Ashling Murphy has shocked the nation. We saw in the Dáil that all parties are resolved to work together… to create a cross-party mechanism to ensure that we can fulfill these timelines and ensure that we’re not back in a year’s time asking why these timelines weren’t met.”

The news was warmly welcomed by the Domestic Violence Service at Longford Women’s Link.

“We very much welcome recent announcements both from the Taoiseach and Minister for Justice in relation to the issue of Violence Against Women and the location of DSGBV policies in a single department,” said CEO of LWL Tara Farrell.

“We also need to see a transparent, resourced and sustainable system in the future which can bring about the transformative social and systemic change that is needed if we are serious as a society about tackling this issue.”

DVS Manager at LWL, Heather McKenna, agreed.

“We are aware of the need for additional safe accommodation for victims of DSGBV and we recommend that safe accommodation be designed and implemented in line with the unique needs of women experiencing DSGBV,” she told the Leader.

“Safe accommodation is just one aspect of the supports required for our society to fully respond to these needs but it is important to note that safe accommodation provision does not end DSGBV.

“Fully resourced DSGBV services providing supports to victims engaging with Department. of Justice services such as courts and Garda investigations, evidence-based parenting supports and specially trained children’s services are basic requirements alongside safe accommodation.”

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First published in the Longford Leader

Written by Jessica Thompson