Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV).
The Council of Europe's document on minimum standards for support services for victims of domestic violence, "Combating Violence Against Women: Minimum Standards for Support Services" describes standards that apply to a range of services for victims, including the level of provision of shelter places. Tusla has advised me that it references this document in relation to standards that apply to a wide range of DSGBV services, including the level of provision of refuge spaces.
The Council of Europe document references two standards: either one shelter space per 10,000 head of adult population, or one shelter space per 10,000 head of female population, with specific measures of population and calculation of shelter spaces. Tusla is currently applying the latter standard as the requirement for a lesser number of shelter spaces reflects a community focused integrated response for victims, where community-based organisations and outreach supports are in place alongside refuges. This reflects the structure of services available in Ireland.
Responsibility for investment in new refuges falls under the remit of a number of Government bodies. The planning and resourcing of additional refuge accommodation requires cross-Government support.
Five additional emergency spaces will shortly be available in a new refuge development in South Dublin, with a further three emergency spaces to be provided in Galway City early in 2020. Each of these additional spaces can accommodate one adult and up to three dependant children in an emergency refuge setting. Future developments will be informed by Tusla's review of emergency refuge accommodation in the greater Dublin area and nationwide, which will be completed in early 2020.