Domestic violence refuge turns away dozens due to funding shortage

Teach Tearmainn could not accommodate 60 women and 90 children during its first 100 days of operation, in part because it does not have enough money to open half of its beds

A staff member at Teach Tearmainn, a centre to help victims of domestic violence in Co Kildare. Photograph: Eric Luke

A staff member at Teach Tearmainn, a centre to help victims of domestic violence in Co Kildare. Photograph: Eric Luke

Fri, Aug 8, 2014, 01:04

The only domestic violence refuge in Co Kildare has turned away dozens of women and children due to lack of funding since it opened in April.

Teach Tearmainn could not accommodate 60 women and 90 children during its first 100 days of operation, in part because it does not have enough money to open half of its available beds. It has taken in nine women and 19 children since it opened.

The refuge, which provides short-term accommodation to victims of domestic violence and their children, cost €1 million to build and was completed in 2011 but remained closed for three years because of funding negotiations with the HSE and Kildare County Council.

It opened only two of its four apartments on April 29th of this year.

On that day, five victims of domestic violence asked for accommodation, and three were sent away.

‘Pure luck’

“That is not a rare occasion,” says manager Jacinta Carey, adding that whether the centre will have an apartment available for a victim is “pure luck”.

Staff make a risk assessment when there are several applicants for the same apartment.

When a woman is turned away, she is referred to other refuges, the nearest of which are in Dublin and Kilkenny. Ms Carey says it is difficult for staff when a woman who reached out to the refuge is forced back into her domestic situation, especially when two apartments lay empty.

The centre, which has only three staff members, could house four women with up to 16 children, but an additional €80,000 a year is needed to hire two additional staff.

The extra funding would also enable the refuge to provide services for children, which Ms Carey says is especially important because of the intergenerational nature of domestic violence. The refuge lost its dedicated counselling service due to lack of funds.

Running costs

A spokeswoman from Tusla, the State agency that now provides funding for the refuge, said the “Child and Family Agency fund the running and care costs of Teach Tearmainn and Kildare County Council have provided capital funding for the accommodation. Two apartments are now in operation and their running costs are provided for by the Child and Family Agency.

“Despite a Government requirement for efficiency savings across all services, Teach Tearmainn has been exempt from cuts in 2014 and 2013 to ensure crisis accommodation could be provided to women and children.

“In fact, funding for 2014 was increased to ensure the opening of the refuge.”