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Refuge still unopened one year on due to funding issues

Negotiations are still underway between the HSE and Teach Tearmainn in Kildare over staff for a domestic violence refuge that has not yet opened.

Part of the unused refuge
Part of the unused refuge
Image: Jacinta Carey

A REFUGE FOR women and children affected by domestic violence is still lying unused – almost one year after TheJournal.ie revealed that though it was completed in 2011, it had never opened.

Negotiations over funding for the Teach Tearmainn refuge from the Health Service Executive are ongoing. Jacinta Carey of Teach Tearmainn said that the HSE had offered to provide €100,000 but the board have not accepted this as they feel it is not enough to provide a safe refuge for people.

Carey said that it is vitally important that six adequate, professional, qualified staff are available within the refuge, as without them they can’t open it safely.

Turned away

It was revealed last week that domestic violence victims were turned away from Irish refuges 2,357 times in 2011. Carey said that in Teach Tearmainn’s case, 66 women and 138 children from Kildare sought refuge from them in 2012.

The HSE said:

The HSE provide grant aid to Teach Tearmainn for their information and support service. The HSE are engaged in ongoing discussions with Teach Tearmainn with regard to their proposal to open a refuge. The HSE has prioritised additional funding of €100,000 in response to the Teach Tearmainn request for further funding.

It said it will continue to work with Teach Tearmainn and other statutory services to explore ways in which the service can open.

Carey said that there is a shortfall of €55,000 in the funding needed for staffing, and that “in order to be able to meet the necessary regulations, ie Children First guidelines, HIQA standards, in terms of children’s services, we need a number of staff. What is being offered at the moment will not cover it. Therefore the board feels that they are not in a position to ignore all of those regulations and cannot open what they believe will be an unsafe service.”

She said they are very mindful of the situation they are in at the moment and have reduced their funding request by almost 30 per cent. “But to reduce it any further it would mean that the board would certainly be of the view they cannot open.”

We are certainly anxious that the centre opens this refuge and are working actively with the HSE towards that. It is no longer acceptable to be turning women and children away when they have sought help from us. Particularly at a time when other refuges are full and unable to take the number of women who are seeking help. It is imperative that we get it open.

Teach Tearmainn continues to offer help and support to women, as it has for the past 13 years. “It is a very difficult situation when you have women with children who are seeking to leave abusive relationships and you find yourself in a situation then that you can’t help them,” she said. “Obviously the board members of Teach Tearmainn are very frustrated but also very committed.”

“The State has already invested over €1 million in this building, and it’s sitting idle when the need is so great,” continued Carey.

Read: Lack of funding means domestic violence refuge lies unused>

Read: Domestic violence victims turned away 2,537 times in 2011 from overcrowded refuges>

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