Around 500 families turned away from one refuge last year due to a lack of space

Dublin 15 Action Against Gender Violence protest outside Leinster House calling for service to be expanded

 Emma Quinn and Adrienne McDermott representing Dublin 15 Action Against Gender Violence   pictured outside Leinster House on Wednesday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Emma Quinn and Adrienne McDermott representing Dublin 15 Action Against Gender Violence pictured outside Leinster House on Wednesday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Over 200 letters are due to be handed into the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar calling for more funding for a refuge and the establishment of a rape crisis centre in his constituency in west Dublin.

Dublin 15 Action Against Gender Violence protested outside Leinster House on Wednesday calling for the expansion of Viva House refuge in Blanchardstown along with more funding for community outreach teams.

The group says a rape crisis centre should be opened in Dublin 15 to ensure people “in one of the fastest growing communities in the country get the help they need when they need it”.

Emma Quinn, a member of Dublin 15 Action Against Gender Violence, said around 500 families were turned away from the local refuge last year due to a lack of space.

“We want to make a point that we won’t accept one more person being turned away or left in a dangerous situation. Leo Varadkar is the Taoiseach but he is also the local TD for Dublin 15,” she said.

“There is space beside the refuge for two apartments and it wouldn’t cost that much to immediately build them. Dublin 15 is one of the fastest growing and youngest communities in the country and we also don’t have a rape crisis service.”

Ms Quinn said campaign packs including letters seeking more signatures to present to the Taoiseach and window posters are currently being distributed across Dublin 15.

Andrea Murray, also a member of Dublin 15 Action Against Gender Violence, said the refuge is “a vital service” for the area.

“Christmas can be one of the most dangerous times of the year for women in these situations,” she said. “Women are loath to leave violent situations especially at Christmas because of children and that.

“On top of that, the housing crisis doesn’t help - women aren’t going to leave because they know they’re going to put themselves into homelessness.

“They have the space beside the refuge for two apartments and we would love to see funding for that. It would be able to help more families.”

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger said for a lot of women going to a refuge is “the very last resort”.

“It isn’t just about refuges because very few women will go next or near to a refuge if they are experiencing violence,” the Dublin West TD said. “We want more outreach being done as well, so going into schools and educating young people about what a toxic relationship looks like, going into community centres and giving talks.”

Around nine requests a day for refuge from domestic violence were refused last year because the services were full, according to Safe Ireland.

The national agency, which works towards ending domestic violence, said services were unable to provide accommodation for 3,256 requests in 2018.

Safe Ireland has presented its annual statistics which show that 10,782 women and 2,572 children received support from a domestic violence support service last year.

In addition, 53,627 helpline calls were answered by domestic violence support services, an average of 147 calls every day.