At 11.30 a.m. today the Tralee Women's Resource Centre closed after 32 years. For the past 32 years the centre has provided a tremendous service to women in Tralee and indeed women from outside of Tralee, including many areas out towards north and east Kerry. I pay tribute to the staff who worked there and voluntarily gave of their time to the women of Tralee. The centre made a tremendous contribution to women most in need down through the years. I find it very difficult to comprehend how, after all these years and the tremendous service the centre has provided, it has now been closed as of today. A review was conducted by the board of the Tralee Women's Resource Centre, TWRC, which has sadly concluded that the organisation is no longer as relevant as it once was when it was founded three decades and two years ago. I often wonder, how does one define "relevant"? Does it mean that the centre does not have the same numbers coming through the door? Does it mean that the people coming through the door have different problems from those they have had over the past 32 years? The reality is that in the past 12 months, 2,500 people used the Tralee Women's Resource Centre. I cannot understand for the life of me how someone with the stroke of a pen can decide it is no longer relevant and that the work can be taken up by other bodies. In the review carried out over six weeks ago, perhaps ten weeks ago, it was suggested that when the centre moved from the centre of the town to its current address, Áras an Phobail, it was probably the wrong move, yet 2,500 people have been to the centre in the past 12 months. Its relevance and importance is not lost on the women of Tralee and the surrounding areas; its value and importance is embraced by them. The people who worked in the centre and who have contributed to maintaining it for the women must be highly commended for their tremendous work and what they have done.
I do not know what answer the Minister of State will give me - I will hear it in a minute or so - but for the life of me I cannot understand how the HSE or any other section of Government can justify this action. It is terribly wrong. Today women came to the protest to voice their support for the centre and their anger at its closing down. Perhaps some of them had been through the centre and got tremendous service there. There were others who have been supportive of it and the service it has given to women in Tralee and Kerry in general.
What will the Government tell these women, the people who have worked at the centre and kept it open and the people who were using it? Will the Government try to give us some reason as to how what has happened can be justified? I would appreciate the Minister of State's answers and I thank him.