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Dublin: 1°C Saturday 23 January 2021

"We have started to look a bit closer at the purple eye-sockets, the broken ribs" --- Enda Kenny

The Taoiseach gave a moving speech on the issue of domestic violence at the launch of a refuge today.

“IF THERE ARE two words that don’t belong together, it’s ‘domestic’ and ‘violence’.

“Think ‘domestic’ and we think ‘home’. The place where we let our guard down, where we can be who we are, in the company of those we respect, love, cherish.

“The idea then that ‘violence’ should invade that sacred space so absolutely that it becomes its own categorisation, demanding action on the part of the community and indeed the State is something that should shock us and worry us.

“And as a society we have started to look a bit closer at the purple eye sockets, the broken ribs, the chipped teeth, the torn lips, the imprint of a boot or a trainer on the back, after wife or girlfriend or mother curled into a ball on the floor and prayed for ‘himself’ to get tired or to come to his senses.

“The prayers… ‘Dear Jesus please don’t let the children come in and find me like this’ … ‘Dear Jesus thank you, because if he’s mangling me he’s letting the children alone.

“And for every ‘clumsy’ woman who fell or who moved wardrobes and presses with her mind, or picked herself up off the wet floor, chances are there was a small boy or girl hiding in a bedroom or behind the sofa with a pain in their small stomach, small hands over their small ears and some of them thinking, as kids are wont to do, ‘this is all my fault’.

— That’s how Taoiseach Enda Kenny began a speech at the launch of a new domestic violence refuge on Forster Street in Galway. The refuge is at a former Sisters of Mercy convent, which was donated by the order on a 99-year lease.

Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

The not-for profit organisation says it’s hoping to be able to look after all women and children who seek out its services next year with the opening of the centre.

Lack of space in their existing facilities meant they weren’t able to shelter over 200 women who got in touch in 2013.

The Government gave €1.1 million towards the project, through Galway City Council.

‘You gave them comfort…’

Paying tribute to his hosts, Enda Kenny said Cope “saw domestic violence for what it was”.

“And that’s why they have been giving refuge to these women and children since the early 70s.

You took them in and gave them comfort, kindness, minding. You didn’t just save lives, you saved sanity, families, futures.

“And crucially.you did it in a way that protected something to which every family has an absolute right and which every family holds dear particularly in times of crisis.

“That is, their privacy and dignity, things that can be too often undervalued and therefore betrayed and abused.”

Read: Domestic violence: Over 2,000 children taken to emergency refuges last year

Read: Staff at Kerry Women’s Refuge to strike over roster dispute 

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