Tallaght women’s refuge expected to close by Christmas

Cuan Álainn facility has not received funding required from Tusla in order to stay open

Manager Elaine Burnett and volunteer Jane O’Connor with a resident of Cuan Álainn women’s refuge, run by Respond housing association, which is due to close in December this year. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Manager Elaine Burnett and volunteer Jane O’Connor with a resident of Cuan Álainn women’s refuge, run by Respond housing association, which is due to close in December this year. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

Women and children fleeing domestic violence, currently in a refuge in west Dublin, face returning to the homes they left or becoming homeless in two months as their refuge is being forced to close.

Respond housing association, which has run the Cuan Álainn refuge in Tallaght since 2012, was this week told by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency it could not fund it next year.

It costs €350,000 a year to run and has, to date, been funded by the association itself, which it can no longer afford to do. “So, we will have to close on December 18th,” says manager Elaine Burnett.

Clear need

Chief executive Ned Brennan said he had met Tusla on several occasions during the year and had hoped for assistance. However, Tusla confirmed this week it would not fund it. Mr Brennan is now appealing to Minister for Children James Reilly to intervene.

Cuan Álainn is a second-stage refuge for women and children who are out of immediate danger but in need of continued support.

Among those there is “Louise” a mother of three from Co Meath, who left a 19-year-long abusive relationship in February. “He used to fight with me a lot, grab me and punch me, elbow me and kick me,” she says. “He’d call me names, put me down.” She stayed with him because she “wanted the children to have a family”.

After a beating in February, she called the Garda, and left with her children, staying first with her sister. She then went to a refuge in Meath, before moving to one in Dublin. “After two months my time was up there and I got a place here. I realised when I got here I was depressed for years. They got me a psychiatrist in Pieta House.

“I was in no state yet to be on my own yet. If this place hadn’t been here, I would have to have gone back to him, or gone homeless.”

She was told, however, that had she been placed in emergency accommodation, her children would have been taken into care, having experienced so much instability already.

“If I lost my children, I wouldn’t have been able to come back from that,” she says. Happily, she has been allocated social housing and will move there in two weeks.

Asked about the other women and children, Ms Burnett says: “At the moment their choice is to go back to the homes they fled, or homelessness”.

Safe Ireland, the national network of women’s refuges, said it was “absolutely critical” Cuan Álainn remained open.

No funding

A spokeswoman said Mr Reilly “hopes that the matter can be satisfactorily resolved, by allowing sufficient time for all avenues to be explored by the relevant parties”.