Sinn Féin TD for Kilkenny Kathleen Funchion has slammed the government’s shameful attitude towards victims of domestic abuse.
The Dáil deputy was speaking in response to reports that an average of one person a day is being turned away from the Amber Kilkenny Women’s Refuge in the city due to lack of resources, and 320 referrals being turned away last year alone,
"I am appalled at the inaction of this government on domestic abuse. It is completely unacceptable for serious social issues to have to compete for resources at the price of the safety of women and children.
“Last year, the Kilkenny refuge was forced to turn away 320 referrals and was only able to accommodate 53 new clients. The refuge can cater for seven women and up to 23 children at any time.
“Amber Kilkenny Women’s Refuge has stated that the worsening housing crisis has had a huge impact on the ability of the refuge to maintain its core service of short-term emergency accommodation. This is a direct result of there being a limited availability of private rented accommodation in the Kilkenny region. The clients of the refuge have found it impossible to secure the limited social housing available. As a consequence, a number of women and their children have had to remain in the refuge for 15 months or more.
“The reality now is that women and children, who are in fear of their lives and who are trying to seek safety from abusive and violent relationships have nowhere to go. This is unforgivable.
“Accommodation at the refuge is intended as an interim option – it is not designed for long-term stays for parents with small or growing children. It is the responsibility of the local authorities along with the guidance and resourcing of national government to ensure the safety of these families and provide the suitable housing. It is a shameful situation where Government is relying completely on community organisations to fill the void.
“The refuge has had to introduce a length of stay policy of no more than three months for clients accessing the emergency accommodation services of the refuge in order to be able to cater to clients who are at immediate risk.
“I echo the calls of Amber Kilkenny Women’s Refuge for the housing authorities to urgently address the crisis and to deal with the longer term accommodation needs of clients of the refuge as a priority. Vulnerable women and children cannot be left in a dangerous state of limbo while the state absconds of its responsibility for the safety of its citizens who are already experiencing huge trauma in their lives. It is inhumane and unjust and a viable solution needs to be presented immediately so that the safety of women and children is not put at an even greater risk," she added.