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Budget 2021 must address lack of domestic abuse refuge spaces

Statistics produced by Safe Ireland indicate that 1,138 women and 1,667 children were accommodated in a refuge in 2018. Some 9,971 individual women and 2,572 individual children received some supports from domestic violence refuges in that year and services were unable to provide accommodation for 3,256 requests because they were full. Following our ratification of the Istanbul Convention, Ireland is obligated to have 472 places for victims of domestic violence, but has only 141. The current crisis highlights the need to protect women in communal spaces from infection and cross-contamination. The need for social distancing, requiring extended periods in the home, also highlights the need for thousands of women to find a safe space. The Programme for Government describes an “epidemic of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence” but contains few substantive actions to address it. The recent intervention of AirBnB in providing spaces for victims of domestic must be viewed with caution if it cannot also be supported by the necessary wraparound services.

Government must meet our commitments under the Istanbul Convention and provide a further 331 refuge spaces for victims of domestic abuse from within State resources without relying on a dysfunctional private sector.