Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Questions (608)

Thomas Pringle


608. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the number of domestic violence refuge places in County Donegal compared to the recommended number of refuge places; the refuge capacity by county in tabular form; his plans to increase access across Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9712/21]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DGSBV). With regard to the request for operational data in the Deputy's question, I have requested that Tusla responds to you directly on this matter.

The response to Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence (DSGBV) is a cross Departmental and multi-agency issue. Policy is coordinated by the Department of Justice. Capital funding for approved housing bodies, including services that provide refuge accommodation for victims of DSGBV, is provided by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for Government sets out a number of commitments regarding DSGBV, including an audit on segmentation of DSGBV responsibilities across government departments and agencies, which will inform future investments in this area.

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and

Domestic Violence (known as the Istanbul Convention) sets out signatory obligations. The Convention does not set out a single standard or recommended number of refuges. A policy document "Combating Violence Against Women: Minimum Standards for Support Services", published by the Council, 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 mechanisms for measuring population and calculation of shelter spaces. In line with reporting conventions previously used by the Department of Justice, Tusla has applied the latter standard, given that this reflects the community-focused integrated response for victims, where community-based organisations and outreach supports are in place alongside refuges.

Tusla is undertaking a review of emergency accommodation nationwide. This will assess the current and requisite distribution of safe emergency accommodation. The review's findings and the recommendations of the Monitoring Committee of the Second National Strategy on DSGBV will inform Tusla's future decisions on priority areas for investment and development of services. Tusla has advised me that the report will be published in Quarter 2 this year.

It is of the utmost importance that the needs of those who experience domestic violence are met in the most appropriate way possible. I strongly support the work of Tusla and its funded service providers and I am committed to supporting the Agency in meeting the needs of individuals who experience domestic violence.