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Minister McEntee with Minister for Equality Roderic O'Gorman at today's launch Leah Farrell

New sexual violence agency opens today with plans to double refuge spaces across the country

McEntee says the agency will be the driving force to get us to a place of “zero tolerance” of all forms of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS today launched Cuan, the new state agency specifically designed to tackle all forms of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV).

The agency plans to double refuge accommodation across the country by the end of 2026 to 280 units.

Speaking at the launch today, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said that while part of the overall objective of Cuan is to ensure that any woman, man or child who needs a refuge space has one, she also wants to reduce the need for such places.

“I want to see more victims staying in their own home and not being the ones that have to leave,” she said.

With a budget this year of approximately €59m the agency’s work will include overseeing the delivery of support services including helplines and the running of refuge accommodation. 

It will also play a leading role in raising awareness about domestic, sexual and gender-based violence in an effort to reduce it. 

Some €47m of the annual budget will be spent on the provision of supports while over €6m will be spent on prevention and awareness raising initiatives.

McEntee said she is confident the agency will be the driving force needed to get us to a place of “zero tolerance” of all forms of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

Dr. Stephanie O’Keeffe, who has previously worked in the HSE as the National Director of Health and Wellbeing and more recently National Director of Operations Planning, has been appointed chief executive officer of the agency. 

Her term will last for a period of five years. 

McEntee said she is delighted to have someone of O’Keeffe’s “calibre and experience” running the agency. 

“Given her extensive experience of nationwide service delivery, building new and robust teams, and driving forward ambitious whole of Government priorities, I am confident this leadership is exactly what Cuan needs, in its formative years,” she said. 

The Department of Justice said Cuan brings together staff from Tusla, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and the Department of Justice to work together “more coherently” with a specific focus on the provision of DSGBV supports and services.

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